May 7, 2013
CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati volleyball team joined with the Special Olympics of Hamilton County on Thurs., April 18, 2013 for a unified scrimmage and meet and greet. The event took place at the Rost School during the first game of the SOHC volleyball season. Freshmen Morgan Allred (Carrolton, Texas/Hebron) and Alison Kimmel (Naperville, Ill./Plainfield North) and assistant coach Steve Vencl logged their experiences at the unified scrimmage and what the event meant to them.
Special Olympics of Hamilton County Unified Scrimmage Photo Gallery
Fr. | OH/DS | Carrolton, Texas | Hebron
“As I walked into the crowded gym, I was overcome with laughter, joy, and utter happiness. It was completely impossible to be in the same place as these players and not be smiling from ear to ear. It was such a relief to step out of the real world for a little bit and jump into these kids’ worlds. It was a place where hugs were granted freely, high fives were a must, and every name was shared with the person next to them no matter who it was. There were no judgmental glares and no worries to be found. I was fortunate enough to meet so many beautiful faces that day and I remember there was one girl that I couldn’t help but love to be around and her name was Sarah. Sarah barely spoke a word to me but I could feel the friendship and gentleness radiating from her grins and hugs. Sarah made sure I was ready for every ball that might come our way and wanted me to know that she was strong and ready to go for everything. Within just five minutes of meeting Sarah, I had given her all my trust and respect because she deserved every bit of it, as did all the others. It can really warm your heart if you are blessed enough to have just one interaction with these kids. The whole time we were playing volleyball I found myself realizing things; I was realizing that my teammates (not the UC ones) were teaching me more than I was teaching them. Every time the ball came over and one of us missed it, they brushed it off quicker than I could utter, “you’ve got the next one!” There was no room to dwell on the past because they knew bigger and better things were about to happen in the next play. I came to this event ready to coach some volleyball but left with a much deeper meaning. At the end of the night, I didn’t want to leave. I had been honored enough to spend a few short hours with these remarkable people. Their perseverance and confidence is contagious. The way these kids love and accept people can make someone like me and my teammates feel incredible, and at such a stressful time with finals coming up, that’s exactly what we needed. I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect day.”
Fr. |MB | Naperville, Ill. | Plainfield North
“During my experience of participating in the Special Olympics unified scrimmage, I learned more from the players than I could have even imagined. Each and every one displayed such a thankful and warming persona, and by being able to participate in such an unbelievable activity is an experience one can never forget. Getting to know the players as well as the parents was such a pleasure. To know that by my team and I simply working with the players (which we enjoy every single time) means so much to not only the players, but their families, it brings so much happiness to us that I'm not sure we could find by doing anything else. I hope to have the opportunity to work with the players of the Special Olympics for the length of my career at the University of Cincinnati, for it is an experience and opportunity that not everyone is lucky and blessed enough to have.”
“Every opportunity to work with the Special Olympics is rewarding for everyone involved. The evening of unified play was definitely no exception. As a coach we always keep a watchful eye on our players and what they are doing on the court. This time it wasn’t to correct technique or even to make them better volleyball players, this time it was to see them and everyone involved in pure unadulterated joy. There were nothing but smiles, cheers and happiness in the air of that small grade school gymnasium. I even heard one parent comment that even with all the fun that all of the athletes (both UC Volleyball and Special Olympics) this was perhaps the best volleyball that they have played in years. Those are the types of comments and actions that make it a joy to be able to partner with Special Olympics for events like this.”