Behind the scenes – Summer Games 2012

Delegates from the South Section at the opening ceremonies for Special Olympics Massachusetts’ Summer Games.

Approximately 2,100 athletes competed at Special Olympics Massachusetts’ Summer Games and by all accounts it was a wonderful weekend. What many people don’t see is what goes on behind the scenes to make this event happen.

The Athletes: Each person who competed at Summer Games was required to attend at least 8 weeks of training. Most attended an assessment round in late April or early May to determine June’s competition divisions.

The Coaches: They coordinate all the practices, insure that all the athletes have up-to-date participation forms (aka “Medicals”) on file, organize the assistant coaches and chaperones for the weekend and make sure they’ve all submitted the proper forms so a national background check can be run, as it is on everyone who is allowed to have unsupervised access to the athletes. As you may know, all our coaches are volunteers, with jobs, families, and other commitments outside of Special Olympics.

The Games Management Team (GMT):  In January, approximately 75 volunteers began to plan the event. Meeting a couple of times a month, with additional work in between, these hard-working people oversee all the venues and make sure plans are in place for moving in the athletes, serving them meals, organizing the dance, coordinating medical coverage for the weekend, and recruiting friends and family members to help them at their venue.

And finally, the staff:  One person spends hours making sure each athlete has a dorm room. Another assigns over 1500 volunteers. Yet another obtains donated lap tops and configures them with the SOMA database so staff members can input the results as soon as they’re recorded!  The sports staff takes all the standings from the assessment rounds and divisions the athletes into heats. Somebody recruits all the police officers who participated in Opening Ceremonies and the Cruiser Convoy, and another ordered all the food for Sunday’s barbeque. Our interns solicited acts and goodies for Olympic Town and the Street Fair.  In addition, everyone helps out in loading the tractor-trailer with all the equipment needed for the tournament and again unloading the truck after the tournament (in 90+ degree weather this year!)

There are many other unknown and for the most part unseen tasks that are performed to make Summer Games a success.  Thanks to everyone who helped out in any way, it couldn’t be done without you!

-Martha Dove

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