Special Olympic heading for state track, basketball competitions

Special Olympics just started the track season, and students like freshman Briana Smith-Wyckoff help out with practice every Wednesday at the UNI Dome. 

Smith-Wyckoff said, “It’s important for all of us to stay calm, positive and encouraging. Doing all of these things helps keep the kids calm and collected.”

Freshman Owen Brinker also helps out with the Special Olympic athletes every Wednesday morning. Brinker said, “I really like to be there with the kids. It’s amazing to see how they’re social skills can develop, and it’s also just a huge stress reliever because everything is so upbeat and happy.”

Some of the Special Olympic track athletes also participated in the basketball season. The state basketball game is March 12 in Iowa City. 

“The biggest goal for Special Olympic athletes is to give special ed students a chance to participate in sports. I care more about the kids’ happiness and interactions with people rather than how well they do in the sport,” Brinker said. 

Special Olympics adviser Carrissa Andermann said, “I feel the biggest goal for the athletes is to improve their social skills and to make new friends.” 

According to Andermann, students are allowed to volunteer at the beginning of the season, and based on how they act around special ed students at school, only a few are chosen.

The track competition is Sunday, March 6, starting at 10 am. The Special Olympic athletes will compete in a wide variety of events, including running long distance, sprints, of hurdles.

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