Lakeland athletics hosts Sports Day for Special Olympians
Lakeland University recently hosted 45 Special Olympics athletes for a Sports Day that was organized by Lakeland’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
The Special Olympics athletes, who were primary from the Sheboygan and Manitowoc clubs, participated in six 10-minute stations where they tried the sports represented (track, basketball, baseball/softball, soccer, tennis and weightlifting). The sports selected are the ones coming up next in the Special Olympics yearly schedule.
Numerous current Lakeland athletes volunteered for the day include baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, cross country & track, football, women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, women’s tennis, women’s volleyball and women’s wrestling. Members of Lakeland’s Alpha Phi Iota fraternity also volunteered.
Athletes had an additional 20 minutes of 'free station' to go back to their favorite sport for the remainder of the time.
“As Special Olympics prepares for its spring and summer seasons, we wanted to give their athletes a chance to experience some new sports with encouragement from Lakeland student-athletes,” said Ally Lira, an advisor for SAAC at Lakeland and assistant softball coach.
Special Olympics Wisconsin staff also offered a parent education session on how to incorporate fitness into the lives of Special Olympics athletes at home.
Lakeland hosted a similar event prior to the COVID pandemic, and Lira said LU plans to schedule the event annually as part of its diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiative.
“We had way more Lakeland personnel show up than we anticipated, and throughout the entire event there was not a single person who wasn't smiling, encouraging or actually playing sports with the Special Olympics athletes,” Lira said.