Jan. 18, 2010
ATLANTA – With more than 23,000 Special Olympians in the state of Georgia alone, and only 23 full-time staff members, over 100 Georgia Tech student athletes played an important role in making the 2010 Games in Atlanta successful.
Representatives from nine different sports worked with the Special Olympians during the opening ceremonies and roller derby competition over the weekend.
The games kicked off with the opening ceremonies on Friday evening at the Cobb Civic Center, followed by a dance. Student-athletes from baseball, cheerleading, football, golf, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, volleyball and track and field served as escorts during the ceremonies.
“Last year at this event there were only a few of us that actually came out here,” said Georgia Tech baseball pitcher Deck McGuire on Saturday. “Last night, during the opening ceremonies we had more than enough people to know what to do with so it just shows how everyone has really stepped up for these wonderful kids.”
Eighty-five competitors hit the rink Saturday to compete in multiple derby races at the Sparkles Skate Center in Smyrna, Ga. Volunteers served as timers, assisted in registration, recorded information and helped with the awards ceremonies to name a few tasks.
“I think it’s great to switch places with the competitors and be a fan for once,” said baseball catcher Cole Leonida. “These guys love Tech and root for us all the time so it’s a humbling experience to make them the focal point.”
Most memorable to all the athletes from Saturday’s event was the self-disqualification of one of the competitors who accidentally knocked another racer down and out of the race, before helping him to his feet.
“Everything these Special Olympians do is based on their sportsmanship and teamwork,” Leonida added. “I think it gets lost in the world of sports today on so many levels, but here they utilize it so much and so well.”