The St. John’s Athletic Department hosted the New York State Special Olympics on Sunday, April 14. This division of the Special Olympics included the volleyball and aquatics games.
Participants involved in the games came from five sections of New York including Nassau and Suffolk County, Queens, the Bronx and Rockland County.
The Opening Ceremonies began at 10 a.m. with the traditional running of the torch by two participants and two St. John’s athletes.
Each team was introduced as they entered the main gym of Alumni Hall, carrying their flags and banners that represented their area of New York. The games began with the first of five volleyball games, the special skills test in volleyball and the 100M free race in the pool.
Many Red Storm athletes volunteered their time to assist in the games, serving as lifeguards, referees and escorting competitors. Their participation was made possible through the St. John’s University Life Skills program, which was the recipient of an award for Community Service and Degree Completion at the National Consortium for academics and sports.
The volunteers included members from football, women’s soccer, volleyball, swimming and women’s basketball teams.
“It’s good to help kids who don’t get a chance to compete at the normal level,” said Beth Malinowski, a member of the SJU swim team. “They’re so excited to be there.”
Also present to help in the efforts were many athletic team coaches and administrative staff.
The volleyball tournament was a competition between two teams from the Bronx and Queens. There were five games played to 15 points each. The Bronx came out on top, winning the majority of the games.
The volleyball skill tests given to evaluate a series of skills used in volleyball. The skills included setting, bumping and serving. The participants scored points for each individual test by placing the ball into marked squares worth different point values. In each of the three skill tests, medals were given to the top three finishers.
The aquatics competition included many races, from the 100M free to relay events. Each competitor was escorted towards the pool area by a volunteer and was met with the sound of a cheering audience. The races each began with a bell, as officials sat at the end of the pool with stopwatches to record the times. The top three finishers in each of the races received a medal.
The games concluded at 2 p.m. with the medal ceremony. The director of the games gave a special thanks to St. John’s for their hospitality and the help of all of the volunteers.