Special Olympic Tigers Cause an Uproar at Neosho Tournament

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Special Olympic Tigers Cause an Uproar at Neosho Tournament

The Special Olympics team enjoys a fun game of Uno before the game at the Neosho Tournament

The Special Olympics team enjoys a fun game of Uno before the game at the Neosho Tournament

Jessie Marshall

The Special Olympics team enjoys a fun game of Uno before the game at the Neosho Tournament

Jessie Marshall

Jessie Marshall

The Special Olympics team enjoys a fun game of Uno before the game at the Neosho Tournament

Katie Marshall, Writer

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Special Olympics is an organization that allows Special Education students to participate in the sports we all love. Students get the chance to play the games they love with their teammates. Athletes learn important skills such as communication with each other, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and handling wins or losses.

The team participated in their first competition of the year at Neosho. The athletes split up into two teams. One participated in a 3 on 3 tournament, and the other a 5 on 5.

The 3 on 3 team played their first game against Hillcrest. The team then took on Carthage. Sophomore Buddy Jessie Marshall helped in directing players while also making sure everyone had their chance to shine. “As a buddy, we make sure to move the ball around and allow every kid to take their shot. Other than the games, my favorite part of volunteering with the Special Olympics is interacting with every kid and getting the chance to form special bonds with them that can carry on for future years,” said Marshall.

Meanwhile, the 5 on 5 team took on the older Republic team. Ozark played a tough game, including a buzzer-beater three by eighth-grader Michael Rinker. They then moved on to play Carthage’s 5 on 5 team. The team scored a total of 20 points with a big help from Junior Alex Brooks’ six rebounds.

Though the teams competed in a total of 4 competitive games, the highlight of the day was getting closer as a team. The athletes and buddies had a chance to sit down for lunch and a few Uno games before their final games of the day. Here students were able to build stronger connections along with having a little fun.

Mrs. Erin McElroy thinks it is very important to offer students experiences like these to make them feel included in their school. “It’s important to offer opportunities like this because its a way for those people with and without disabilities to come together and play a sport that’s fun and energetic. It’s just a time that everybody can be together, and it’s important for everybody to feel the applause of a crowd. I think at our tournament helps all our kids feel that at least once,” said McElroy.

Both teams ended up with fourth-place finishes and gained the skills of teamwork, communication, and sportsmanship that they can use in everyday life.
Throughout the entire tournament, the athletes showed that all it takes to truly succeed in anything is to have determination and heart.