The Special Olympics North America Athlete Storytelling Training Series brought seven athletes from the US and Canada together to improve their storytelling and journalism skills. Over six months, athletes put lessons into action as they researched, interviewed individuals for, wrote, and edited a feature story. This is one of those feature stories.
In 2012, Nick Cammarota was working as a journalist for the Maryland Gazette. While covering The Wise Pumas basketball team of Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Maryland, Cammarota connected with Wise’s basketball head coach Bryan Robinson. Robinson just happened to also be the coach of Wise’s Special Olympics Unified bocce team and directed Cammarota to the Unified Bocce State Championships being held at the University of Maryland. Cammarota says that the event “was unlike any other sports event I’ve ever seen before. The way people treated each other with kindness and respect really means a lot to me.”
Now, a decade later, Cammarota is the Director of Digital Communications and Marketing at Special Olympics Pennsylvania. When asked what Special Olympics means to him, Cammarota says, “It represents inclusion in a very fun and positive way, it’s the great connector that everyone has, and everyone is on the same playing field.”
Cammarota also stated how becoming a journalist prepared him for his current job at Special Olympics.
“In journalism, you're able to learn about people in a deeper way. You also need to feel comfortable with people when you’re talking with them so that they’re comfortable about sharing more information with you,” he says. “You’re always starting at a base level when you’re interviewing people. It's important to start the interview exactly the same way with [Special Olympics] athletes as you would any other person,” he continues to say.
But it is not just interviewing skills that helped him in his future career. Cammarota also paid tribute to the other skills that helped him out as well. Cammarota says “Social media content, being able to tell a story in general with blog and video posts,” has helped him. He credits “storytelling, writing articles” and other “skills that he built up over time are massively helpful” with helping him out in his Special Olympics career.
To get to know Cammarota, one must learn about those who work with him too. Hailey Euston, the current Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Special Olympics Pennsylvania, and Cammarota`s coworker since 2019. Euston says, “It`s been great working with Nick. He`s a great partner, and we have a collaborative working relationship.” Euston also says that their relationship really showed its true colors during the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games down in Orlando, Florida, and that it is her favorite event that she’s worked at with Cammarota over the years. “Our creativity and content that we were able to capture were at our best”, and it helps that it was “Such a unique event, and we got to have free reign, creative-wise,” Euston says.
Cammarota’s advice to Special Olympics athletes who want to join the communications, marketing, or journalism fields is to “stay true to what you believe in and your inquisitive nature.” He also says to have confidence in your own skills. For a man who`s gone from former restaurant manager to newspaper journalist, to the Director of Communications at Special Olympics Pennsylvania, if anyone knows the meaning of not giving up, it must be Cammarota.