By: Kevin Crossman
As a senior in college, figuring out what you want to do in the next phase of life is not easy. Personally, I have changed what I want to do about five times during my college experience. One common factor always remained the same, helping others is something that I love to do.
During the 2016 fall semester I interned with the Special Olympics Massachusetts sports department. My time here has been incredible. I had no idea what I was going to be doing on a day to day basis, but everything has panned out remarkably.
On November 19th, I had the pleasure of working the Special Olympics Flag Football Tournament at Gillette Stadium. Going into the event, I had an idea of what my tasks were going to be, but when I arrived I was surprised to find out I would be helping run the tournament. As someone who has coached and directed sports camps for years, this was great news. My tasks included gathering teams to their fields prior to the start of the game, interacting with athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers to make sure everyone was on the same page, and gathering scores from each game. My goal was to make the tournament run as smooth as possible and we accomplished that goal when the tournament concluded earlier than anticipated.
The day started out cold, but everyone was happy to be at Gillette Stadium, on the field where the New England Patriots play. The volunteers were briefed and given instruction on what was needed from them. All the volunteers were amazing; helpful, happy to be there, and great with the athletes. The athletes all had a blast, with everyone having a huge smile on their face it was impossible not to reciprocate the joy and energy the athletes displayed.
My favorite part of the experience was interacting with everyone. I got to know many of the coaches, players, officials, and volunteers and they all knew they could come to me if they had any concerns. The athletes were extremely appreciative of everyone’s efforts and they were ecstatic just to be there. I will never forget some of the people I met this day, the hugs I received from athletes, and the volunteers who made it all happen.
The volunteers had shifts, if we needed volunteers to stay an extra game, they were glad to. Three officials who volunteered their time were asked to referee one last game even though they were not scheduled for it, they were glad to. This is what amazes me about Special Olympics, everyone involved is present because they want to be, those officials and volunteers did not have to be there, but they wanted to be for the athletes. That is what amazes me most.
My experience has been unquestionably positive. I have met so many amazing people that do so much for the Special Olympics. I highly recommend anybody to go out a volunteer some time to an event. It will truly change your perspective on everything.