Way More

This morning when I got to work, I had documents and letters to sign, all which required not only my signature, but my title: Randy Mascorella, Executive Director. Although I have been signing my name and title on behalf of Special Olympics New Mexico for 29 years, signing today caused me to pause and reflect. I’m not retiring yet, so this isn’t a prelude to my farewell. Here are my thoughts.

Whether it’s been 29 years or 29 days–the opportunity to put any Special Olympics title next to your name, any Special Olympics logo on your shirt, in any way you have been involved–Special Olympics has likely blessed your life more than you could imagine. You will have more opportunities, more connections, more revelations, more friends, and more meaningful moments because of Special Olympics.

Perhaps today you can take time to pause and reflect on how the Special Olympics movement has impacted your life. When you stop to think about Special Olympics–putting names to the faces, places, and experiences you’ve had–you too will agree that it’s way more than you would have ever imagined.

With that thought in mind, I gratefully remain:

Randy Mascorella, Executive Director of Special Olympics New Mexico

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

GAME ON

And so it begins! Small numbers… Here and there… In-person training with new protocols to follow–but FINALLY–we return to play. It has been a very long time since the athletes and families of Special Olympics New Mexico have gathered in force. It is my guess it will take us longer to fully get back, but the wonderful news is that along with the other sports organizations in our state, we are going to start training and competing together again. Here are my thoughts about that.

First and foremost, the safety of our athletes will remain the priority. We all must be diligent in doing exactly what our Return to Play protocols call for.

For those not ready to train in person, Special Olympics New Mexico will continue to offer virtual sports training, fitness programs, and competition, so that all athletes can stay engaged and training from home if they choose to do so.

Regarding in-person competitions, our current plan is to host a version of the Four Corners Invitational in Farmington in late August. It’s too early to tell what sports we will offer, but in case we are not able to meet in Farmington, we will host smaller competitions around the state.

Special Olympics athletes: Now is the time to work on your fitness so that when you do compete again your body is physically ready. GAME ON!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Express Yourself

Some of my favorite memories in sport are the silent and solitary ones. Growing up hitting a tennis ball against the garage door, driving worn out golf balls into the woods behind our house, dribbling a basketball around the paved driveway of the church across the street. All of those moments were uncomplicated, inexpensive, and so very good for my mind and soul. Those times allowed me to be present to I was thinking and feeling. I was alone with sport and free to express myself.

I have given thought about those times more than usual since the pandemic began, because I have been intentional about following the Facebook posts of our Special Olympics athletes. They have given me a whole new appreciation not only for their commitment to participating in sport from their homes, but for their amazing ability to express themselves through their commitment to art.

Much has been written about the relationship of sport and art. Both disciplines cross borders, generations, and cultures. They speak of similar things: practice, endurance, emotion, focus, and dedication. They teach us more about ourselves and–in wonderful ways–connect us to others.

I am delighted to share with you just a few of our Special Olympics New Mexico athletes who are also artists. May you unite with them as you enjoy the ways they have chosen to express themselves. As they often do, they may just inspire you to do the same.

Athletes included in the photos:

Christian Baird – SO Sandia Prep

James Santillanes – SO Albuquerque Dukes

Ashli Lisenbee – SO San Juan County

Sarah Wilson – SO AGS

Abe Assaad – SO Sandia Prep

Steve Romero – SO Taos

Note: Christian, Sarah, James, and Steve are “starving artists” and happy to sell their art. For more information, please call or email SONM at sonm@sonm.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Good Day

Monday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. The day was created in the early 1900’s as a way to promote women’s rights and celebrate women who have made the world a more equal and balanced place. As I have paused to give thought to women who have achieved so much and inspired so many in bringing about equality, I have found great benefit in learning not only about what they have done, but about their qualities and character while doing it. Almost all have demonstrated great perseverance.

I am reminded today about one woman’s story that has helped me to see the power of persevering through challenges. Great or small, challenges can define us, and how we respond to challenges can be an inspiration to others. Think about women in your life who exhibit perseverance and have overcome challenges. As you think about influential women in your life, give thought to one thing you can do on this International Women’s Day to honor them by lifting up and encouraging a younger woman in your life who may need a standing ovation of her own.

A SPECIAL OLYMPICS STORY

On this Friday afternoon
In a quiet corner of the Middle School gym
After two years and about 1,200 attempts
And thousands of “you can do it” from her teammates
And the willingness to endure efforts that were nowhere close
And the times that the basketball smashed off the bottom of the rim
And came crashing back to knock her glasses off
Only to have her pick them up, smile, and reassure everyone with a softly spoken
“I’m fine” and stand there once more, ball in hand, ready to try again…

And after listening to all the expert advice taken in eagerly…she finally got the ball in the basket!

No, you won’t see it on ESPN Sports tonight
And it won’t be on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week
But when it happened in that gym–everyone stopped to give her a standing ovation…probably her only one in 40 years.
And she smiled proudly.
The beauty of that simple, ordinary moment reached down and lifted the dreams of everyone there.
And when the applause died down, as it always does,
And everyone went back to their own involved world, as they always do,
She did a most simple extraordinary thing.

She picked up the ball
And began shooting again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“I Do Miss My Life”

The other day one of our athletes shared a “1 year ago – See Your Memories” post on Facebook that said: “Hockey practice today did feel amazing. It is awesome to be with my team again.” That was posted in January 2020, and under the memory post he wrote “I do miss my life. I do.”

The longer we’ve been apart from our Special Olympics athletes and friends, I have been feeling like I do miss my life, too. Special Olympics has given me really good friends, a much fuller and more meaningful life, and a greater love not just for some people, but for all people.

My thoughts today are driven by how much I miss in-person connection at Special Olympics, and how I look forward to when SONM can return to play in the future. There are days I miss being with our athletes at our Games so much I could just scream. There are days that I do scream. On the days that I feel I just can’t cope with not being together one minute longer, rather than try to bury my emotions, I find myself doing one of two things. I pull out photos of past Special Olympics competitions and take time to not just look at them, but STUDY them. I start to notice things in those photos I may never have noticed before, and it doesn’t take long for my heart to feel good again. If I’m not looking at photos, I make time to text an athlete, direct message an athlete on Facebook, or better yet, I call an athlete. Their voice alone does the trick and within a matter of minutes I am laughing, and I am thankful.

Remembering the joy at Special Olympics Games pre-covid helps put my mind at ease, and gives me hope for in-person return to play at SONM in the future. As you look at the slideshow photos from past SONM competitions, I hope they bring you joy and hope.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized