When many people think of the Olympics, they think of the worldwide event that takes place every two years with extravagant performances and record-breaking athletes. However, the title of “The Olympics” has taken on a new meaning and has become personal to Carlmont.
Students from Pamela Cote’s special education class at Carlmont compete annually in the Special Olympics, which consists of a different sporting event each season. They compete in the Bowling Olympics in the fall, Basketball Olympics in the winter, and Track and Field Olympics in the spring.
These students, along with all other special needs students in the Sequoia Union High School District, are coached by Physical Education Specialist Jim Bell. Jim Bell has been coaching for over 17 years and has won various awards such as Southwest District Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) and Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year for California in 2007.
Bell comes to Cote’s class every Monday to teach the students not only sports lessons that the teachers will incorporate and practice with their students in preparation for the Olympic event, but also about the importance of good values and sportsmanship.
These Olympic events include all the other schools in the district in addition to all the surrounding schools in the area, including as far away as Pacifica.
Inclusion Aid Alberto Diaz assists in coaching the team. He said, “It feels like a normal tournament. It’s good for them to play with other students, and it gets very competitive. They want to win very badly and the students were undefeated in basketball. What I like about it is that they have a detachable basket for wheelchair-impaired students that makes it reachable for them as well.”
One of the main goals of the Special Olympics is to accommodate the capacities of all students. With the special nets available for wheelchair students, this is one way in which participation is encouraged within all.
In the Basketball Special Olympics which took place in the winter, Carlmont’s team not only won their division but also won the entire championship with an undefeated season and team member Rafael Aguilar was awarded MVP. The students will be honored on April 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the school board meeting.
With the extreme success in their season, basketball is a favorite of many, such as senior Rai Gaurav who has participated in these events since he was a freshman at Carlmont. Gaurav said, “My favorite sport is basketball, because we work as a team and we played hard. It’s one of the best ones and we’re the champions. I really enjoy it.”
Freshman Kristi Morrow said, “Basketball is my favorite too, because I’m good at three pointers and shooting.”
This is Morrow’s first year participating on Carlmont’s Special Olympic team and she looks forward to continuing throughout the rest of her high school years.
Diaz is thrilled that the program has been such a success and admires many qualities about the Special Olympics. He said, “It gets the students out to play with other students to play a friendly game, while staying competitive and learning how to congratulate the opposing team.”
“At the end of the games we give the other team high fives and all that to show them that we care,” Gaurav said.
When asked about her opinion about the Special Olympics, junior Sara Kish said, “I think everybody should have a chance to pursue their dreams and participate although it is not the real Olympics.”
Junior Lauren Reiley has attended a Special Olympics game in the past and said, “It was so much fun to watch how happy all the players were and how well they worked together as a team. It was just as exciting and interesting, if not more so, than a traditional game.”
The students are now preparing for the Track Olympics which will be held in May.