Several athletes at Special Olympics Southern California can pinpoint a variety of aspects they enjoy most about competing. A solid number of responses will tie back to the atmosphere and encouragement they receive from a supportive group of engaged spectators.
Many will tell you that the roar of a crowd can result in a significant confidence boost.
“It gives me a lot of passion to win the race,” said Paul Kim, a track and field athlete from Glendale.
Added his teammate, Varouj Mekhitarian: “It makes me happy.”
The athletes certainly show it, too. From the track to the basketball court, and everywhere else, it’s hard to find an athlete who isn’t smiling, isn’t enjoying themselves – both during competition and on the medal stand.
Among the supporters who help make a difference are the law enforcement agencies in the community. James Setzer, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, said even the simple gesture of attending and watching a competition can go a long way.
Once captivated, it’s only a matter of time before the cheers come out and the athletes take notice.
“I think it’s just that pride of accomplishment,” he said. “Whatever level of athletic ability all these folks come from, for them that is the most important event, at that time. Regardless of the output, to them it was everything.”
Another season will be here before you know it. Special Olympics Southern California offers several opportunities across the nine regions to attend as Fans in the Stands, or fill several more volunteer roles, at area and regional competitions. The fall lineup of sports will include: bowling, floor hockey, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
Bookmark SOSC’s volunteer page, sign up for the future notifications and attend a competition in your area later this year.
Inside the SOSC is a blog written by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.