Image submitted by Michael Palermo
Image submitted by Michael Palermo

Special Olympics athletes, boys soccer team form unique bond

“They just love to compete and go out and play. It doesn’t really matter about the result. They’re not so tied up into if they won or lost. It’s just having the opportunity.” -Mark Haley, Special Olympics Coach

December 5, 2019

Home to many successful athletic programs, Blue Springs High School boasts athletes that thrive off of the team comradery and the supportiveness of the fans and fellow players. Sometimes, that comradery extends between two teams, not just teams and fans. 

Boys soccer players and Special Olympics athletes have teamed up over the last few years, providing support for each other and cheering each other on. 

Boys soccer over the past few years have adopted the role of helping the special olympics and cheering them on at all of their events. 

“I just thought it would be really cool to interact them with my soccer athletes and do whatever we can to help support the Special Olympics team and get involved,” Head Soccer Coach Michael Palermo said. “We’ve tried to do it for years, at least to be a part of it in someway, whether it’s just introducing some of our soccer players to the other kids, or to get involved in a practice or going to games.”

The interaction between the athletes fuels special and irreplaceable relationships that are beneficial for both groups. 

“Once we go to one event, the guys that have been around for four  years have been doing this every year, they really get to know these guys on a first name basis,” Palermo said. “Not only does it make the Special Olympics kids feel really really good, it makes our kids feel good too.”

The Special Olympics has four sports that take place throughout the year: bowling, flag football, basketball, and track and field. Each athlete is typically a multi-sport player, making them active year round. On November 21, they had their annual flag football game. 

“It was awesome. Everyone had a great time and it was fun. It was a pretty high scoring game,” said Special Olympics football and basketball coach, Mark Haley.

Having coached Special Olympics along with softball and baseball for 18 years, Haley understands how every athlete feels. 

“I think it’s pretty inspiring for to see. I think a lot of times we take for granted opportunities and unfortunately Special Olympics athletes don’t get a lot of opportunities,” Haley said.

The unification of Special Olympics athletes and interscholastic athletes is something that draws the community of BSHS even closer. It’s beneficial and uplifting for everyone involved. The soccer teams involvement is just one group that makes a huge difference, which is something that all of us can do.

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