Today: Jun 17, 2024

Owls support local athletes in three events

Photo Southernctowls.com
The softball team has done many different community events throughout the offseason.

PAULA CAPUTOStaff Writer

Hugs, smiles, laughs and even autographs upon requests—these are just a few of the special moments the Owls softball team gets to experience while attending events for the Special Olympics, said junior infielder Alyssa Downs.
“We go out there and just have fun,” Downs said. “We don’t really worry about whether they win or lose but just go out there and do whatever they want to do and just have fun with it.”
According to Downs, the personal satisfaction the team gets by attending these events is as thrilling and rewarding as winning a Northeast-10 Championship. She said the athletes’ carefree demeanor and diligent work ethic inspires the team and gives them more incentive to work harder.
“I know people that have disabilities,” said Downs. “It means a lot that we go out and support people with disabilities because they are people; they’re not any different than we are. It shows that people do care and you can go out there and have fun and it doesn’t have to matter about a competition or anything—you just go out there and give it your all.”
This past weekend, the Owls assisted at three Special Olympics events. The other was power lifting and bowling in both East Haven and Milford. The Southern athletes helped put the weights on and off the bars for the Olympic athletes during power lifting and kept score during the bowling events. Senior outfielder Allison Lehner said just being able to support and cheer them on was enough gratification for her.
“Special Olympics are taken very seriously and are important to them,” Lehner said. “They enjoy sharing the experience with us. They love telling us jokes, sharing their techniques and talking about their families and friends with us.”
According to Lehner, during the beginning of the school year, the Owls also got involved in a Special Olympics softball tournament which turned out to be a hit for everyone involved.
“It was great to see the athletes competing and sharing the same love as we do for the game,” Lehner said. “They enjoyed showing off their skills in addition to asking us for advice.”
Attending these Special Olympics events is just one of the many ways the Owls softball team gives back. Because of the success of these events over time, the Owls were encouraged to get more involved in community service. Lehner said in order to show their thanks to the community, the team often visits the Boys & Girls Club, runs a reading program at the New Haven library and volunteers at Saint Raphael’s Hospital.
Head softball coach Lisa Barbaro said the involvement of the team in these events is an important part of their growth and maturity as people, and it gets them to reach out, lend a hand and help others.
“I think it helps in the development of each individual student-athlete that we have on our team,” Barbaro said. “However, I think it’s a great team bonding thing as well. It shows them working together to help out the community, and to me, I think that’s a special thing.”
According to Lehner, the team has become a lot closer with each event that passes.
“We enjoy spending time together while cheering on inspirational athletes,” Lehner said. “It reminds us why we work so hard for the game we love.”

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