From Carnegie Mellon University
On Saturday, April 30, Carnegie Mellon University hosted the Western Spring Sectional competition of the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. Nearly 500 athletes from 19 programs in Western Pennsylvania came to campus to compete in basketball, swimming, tennis, athletics and golf events.
The day began at 9:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at Gesling Stadium, as two athletes from each program marched into the stadium carrying their respective banner. Following remarks by Special Olympics organizers, Carnegie Mellon Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy and Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh, a ceremonial cauldron was lit by three athletes to officially open the games.
“It was quite an honor to have the opportunity to welcome the Special Olympics and so many terrific athletes to our campus,” said Director of Athletics Josh Centor. “I am grateful to our student-athletes and other volunteers who helped make the event a resounding success. We’re already looking forward to next year.”
Events took place across campus throughout the day, including in the Cohon Center, Skibo Gymnasium, the tennis courts and Gesling Stadium. There was also an Olympic Village at the soccer field to serve as a location for athletes, coaches, families and volunteers to interact and have fun outside of the competition. The Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park and the nearby Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill were also used for events.
Nearly 400 volunteers helped make the event a success, many of whom were Carnegie Mellon student-athletes that gave of their time just days before final exams.
“I really enjoyed interacting with the athletes,” said James Ormond, a junior on the men’s basketball team. “The enthusiasm and excitement they had made the job so easy and fun.”
Alex Pomerantz of Men’s Golf echoed similar sentiments.
“To see the athletes enjoy their day in a sport that I love was enough for me to be happy. To have friends and teammates around only enriched the event more.”
The Special Olympics were founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and have grown to become an international organization consisting of 3.1 million athletes training and competing in more than 170 countries. Locally, the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania was chartered in 1970 and supports 20,000 athletes who participate at more than 260 local, sectional, and state level competitions.
Carnegie Mellon University will repeat the honor of hosting the Western Spring Sectional again in April 2017, and student-athletes that participated this year are already excited for next year. Women’s golf sophomore Ginger Glass said that being a part of the event was “Life changing! It was a great experience that I hope more people have the opportunity to participate in.”