My Olympic Summer

Hi everyone!

I’m sorry for not posting for such a long time. After Rio, I was really exhausted, and then I had to get ready for my last semester of college! Now, I’m back in school, and I’m going to try to keep a regular posting schedule again.

Coming back to school again after Rio and my summer has been difficult, but I’m slowly adjusting. Because it’s almost the end of summer (it ends on September 21), I thought I would look back on my very Olympic summer for this post. Here is a recap video.

This summer, I was lucky enough to intern for Special Olympics Southern California at the Summer Games, volunteer for LA24 and LA84’s Olympic Day at the LA Memorial Coliseum, organize a day for Rio 2016 volunteers in Southern California to visit LA 2024’s office to learn more about the bid, meet Kerri Walsh Jennings, attend the Road to Rio event at Venice Beach, meet Dustin Plunkett, attend NBC’s Social Media Opening Ceremony, intern for the LA 2024 Olympic Bid Committee, and volunteer at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Mostly though, I was really lucky to be able to spend a whole summer doing what I love. I’m so grateful to have had the summer I had and to have met the people I met.

What’s next for me?

I am currently writing my senior Honors thesis about incorporating a Special Olympics’ Unified Sports experience into the Olympics. It’s due in December! In the meantime, I’ll also be going to Olympic, Paralympic, and Special Olympic events in the city and volunteering! Keep an eye on my blog to read more about what I’m up to!

After that, I’m graduating from Pace University, and then, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. 🙂

Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games

IMG_0489Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games were held June 11-12. These were the fifth Special Olympics Games I had been to, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. With my internship at SOSC, I was able to work behind the scenes and definitely had a different perspective from the other Games I’ve attended.

The entire week before was very fast-paced, and everyone in the department worked really hard. There was so much to do! There was a very strong sense of team in my department and in the entire organization. I was impressed by something called the Dog Pound where we had lunch and dinner every day after Wednesday. The volunteers of the Dog Pound were so close-knit and so passionate about Special Olympics. Some of the volunteers no longer lived in Southern California, but they still came back every year just for this! Some even had volunteered at the Summer Games for over 40 years!

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We were primarily stationed in Games HQ, which was in the pyramid on campus (Cal State Long Beach has a giant blue pyramid!). During the Games, people came here with questions, problems, and for lost and found.

Saturday started with the Opening Ceremony. They kept it short and very athlete-centered. All of the delegations filed in, and then there were speeches from various important people involved in the Games (like Bill Shumard, the CEO of SOSC). Additionally, two of the stars of Born This Way, a reality tv show on A&E about people with Down Syndrome who live in Southern California, were there and spoke. This was cool because I’ve seen this show! The two who spoke were Sean, a Special Olympics golfer, and Carly, a swimmer (she’ll be on the show next season). I also met Carly later that day! She was really awesome to talk to, and I’m excited to see her on the show!

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On Saturday, I was able to shadow the Director of Competitions, and she gave me tips on IMG_0404how to properly manage large competitions like the Summer Games. We went to each venue to make sure everything was going well and to see if they needed help. In addition to the tips, this was really cool and helpful because I had never seen the inner workings of a Summer Games.

The Athlete Dance was Saturday night, and I went with a few other people to see what it was like. It was held in the Student Union, which was so big, and it even had a bowling alley inside! Athletes could choose to bowl, play pool, or dance. There was even a DJ and a live band for them to choose from. I danced a little with one of the athletes, and it was a lot of fun!

Sunday was a little more relaxed, and we were able to attend many of the competitions. I saw Rhythmic Gymnastics, Bocce, Athletics, the Festival, Unified Bocce, Basketball, and Aquatics! This was a really fun day because there wasn’t a lot left for us to do, so we were able to enjoy everything we had done to make the Games happen.

All in all, it was a really great learning experience for me. Special Olympics Southern California has one of the best Summer Games in the country, and I’m really grateful that I was able to work to make them happen with the SOSC Sports and Programs team!

After the Summer Games, my internship ended, and I got another internship at the LA 2024 Olympic Bidding Committee (see this blog post for information about the LA 2024 bid)!!! This past Thursday, we had an Olympic Day celebration at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, so check back here in the upcoming week for a blog post about it!

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A Look Ahead to the SOSC Summer Games

This weekend, June 11 and 12, is Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games! As an intern, I’ve been working hard to help prepare for these Games. Over 1,100 athletes from all over Southern California are coming to California University Long Beach to compete in Aquatics, Athletics, Basketball, Bocce, Golf, and Gymnastics. Here’s a little about what to expect at the Games.

Aquatics

I’ve seen Special Olympics Aquatics once at the Special Olympics New York Fieldston Aquatics and Basketball Invitational in April, and it was really fun to watch! Athletes can compete in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly along with the Individual Medley (IM) and Freestyle and Medley relays. The Southern California Games will be different from anything I’ve seen because the pool’s outside!

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From Special Olympics Southern California’s website

Athletics

Always exciting to watch, Athletics is comprised of race walking, long jump, shot put, softball throw, standing long jump, wheelchair races, and various track events like the 100 meter run. Here are some photos of Athletics from last year’s Metro Tournament.

Basketball

Depending on skill level, Special Olympics athletes can play basketball on teams or compete in individual skills competitions. The individual skills competitions include target pass, ten-meter dribble, and spot shot.

Bocce

I’ve never watched Bocce at a Special Olympics competition. It would definitely be a very exciting sport to watch because of the intense strategy needed. The Special Olympians who are competing in Bocce this weekend will compete in teams of four, and each team’s goal is to get as many of their balls closer to the smallest ball (the pallina) than the opposing team’s closest ball.

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From Special Olympics Southern California’s website

Golf 

Athletes compete in Individual Skills, Unified Golf (the athlete is partnered with an athlete without disabilities), Nine Holes, or 18 Holes. I’ve never watched this at a Special Olympics competition either, but I would like to.

Gymnastics

Just like the Olympics, Special Olympics athletes can compete in Rhythmic or Artistic Gymnastics. Rhythmic Gymnastics is where athletes perform using a ball, hoop, clubs, ribbon, or a rope. Artistic Gymnastics includes Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Rings, Vaulting, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar for the men, and women compete in Floor Exercise, Vaulting, Uneven Bars, and Balance Beam. I was able to watch a little of the Rhythmic and Artistic Gymnastics at World Games last year, so I’m really excited to watch them at the Summer Games! I’m stationed here this weekend.

I hope now you’re as excited about the Summer Games as I am!

Additionally, happy birthday to my blog! The Olympics of Blogs turns 1 today!