A couple weekends ago Special Olympics New Mexico traveled to Las Cruces for our 2017 Holiday Classic (basketball, bowling, and team bocce competition). As sometimes happens in an organization that relies heavily on volunteers – things don’t always work out as planned. This year, we arrived at the gym to find out we were short of basketball officials. What also happens in organizations that rely on volunteers – we figure out in a hurry how to remedy the situations we face.
Because I spent a good number of years playing, coaching, and yes, even officiating the game, I borrowed a whistle and ended up calling four games … in a row. I wasn’t dressed appropriately, was far from being at a level of physical condition to run the court like I needed to, and truth be told, the thought of making a really bad call made me a little hesitant. I did manage, however, to survive all four games, and these are the thoughts that have remained with me.
No matter who you are, how old you are, how much experience you have had, what your ability level is – when you become a part of sport – you become immersed in the moments sport brings. You assume your role of player, coach, official, fan – and for however long your game goes on – everything else in your life goes away. It’s what sport does that requires nothing of us. The cares, the worries, the circumstances – sport takes them away.
When I stepped onto the court and put the whistle in my mouth – I was back in an element that brought joy to my heart. For four games – what mattered was what was happening in front of me. It is with that thought in mind that reaching more Special Olympics athletes, coaches, unified partners, officials, and fans brings even a greater sense of importance. After all, we could ALL use a little more joy in our lives, and we could ALL use a healthy way to rid ourselves of those things that take up too much space in our head. Thank you Special Olympics basketball. Sorry for any bad calls, but at the end of the day – I loved being a part of it.