"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
~The Special Athletes' Oath

Special Olympics soccer tournament brings hundreds to campus

The Special Olympics Fall Games soccer tournament was held at Norwich University on October 10, 2004. Co-sponsored jointly by the University and Special Olympics Vermont, the event took place on the Norwich University campus for the tenth year in a row.

More than 200 athletes from a dozen Vermont townships participated in the statewide event, which was hosted, planned, organized and executed by Norwich students and SOVT personnel. Norwich is one of only ten schools of higher education in the nation currently participating in a program that incorporates Special Olympics courses into their curricula.

The full day of team and individual competition began with much pomp and ceremony, as the Norwich University Color Guard led the twelve delegations into Shapiro Field House, marching to the tune of "Officer of the Day" performed by the NUCC Regimental Band, led by Music Director James Bennett.

Following the playing of the National Anthem and welcoming remarks by Norwich Athletic Director Tony Mariano, Special Olympics Vermont President William D. Porreca presented plaques of appreciation to Mariano and the Norwich Games Management Team. Plaques were also presented to the referees' association for lending their time and expertise to the Fall Games.

The opening ceremonies concluded with a two-man trick rifle performance by members of the Norwich University drill team and the reciting of the athletes' oath. The games were then officially opened by the lighting of the Olympic torch with the "Flame of Hope," and a cannon discharge by the Norwich University Independent Battery.

For the second year running, a team of Norwich Physical Education students assumed full responsibility for planning and running the tournament, including publicity, contracting certified referees, soliciting sponsors, organizing volunteers, providing refreshments and a host of other responsibilities both before and during the event.

"This is the second time my students have organized this event and, as I missed last year's through illness, it is even more satisfying this year to witness and be a part of their efforts on behalf of the Special Olympics community," said Davison. "It is very rewarding not only to see the athletes' joy in the heat of competition, but also to see my students derive so much pleasure from an academic assignment - how often can we say that?"

The athletes competed in Traditional and Unified 5-a-side soccer, as well as Individual Skills Competition. Medals for first, second and third place were awarded in each individual and team category.

Davison feels that these types of service-learning experiences are of tremendous value in linking theory and practice, and have the added benefit of being of service to the Special Olympics family.

"We had a great day of competition; the weather in Vermont cooperated for once; and we all went home with new friends and experiences -- I think it was a success!" said Davison.

The Games Management Team was comprised of the following Norwich students: James Warriner, Selena Walton, Alesha Sodaro, Julie Sledz, Alycia Pushard, Eric Murphy, Sonia Masse, Chris Kowalczyk, Mike Kiser, Billy Hribar, Geoff Hensley, Chris Har, Niko Filippakis, Rob Fabich, Gerard Ditolla, Richard DeCato, Jillian Curley, Amber Burnell, Mike Boudreau, Kory Beals, Nicole Babis, and Warren Alexander.

dweggler@norwich.edu, October 2004

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