Special Olympics track and field and tennis events to be held on campus

Anthony O’Connell
News Editor

SpecialOlympics1-page-001Vinny Croce| The Hudsonian

Taking advantage of the new Athletic Outdoor Complex, track and field, and tennis competitions for the Special Olympics New York 2017 Summer Games will be held on campus starting June 17.

“With the addition of our new outdoor athletic facility, it seemed like a perfect fit for the Special Olympics to utilize one of the premier tracks in the area. Having the tennis courts adjacent to the facility also made it convenient to host tennis as well,” said Justin Hoyt, interim director of athletics.

While the State Summer Games will be hosted by Siena College, surrounding community venues including The Sage Colleges, World Class Gymnastics, Spare Time Bowling Alley and Hudson Valley will also be participating in hosting certain events.

This marks the first time in a decade the Capital Region will host the State Summer Games. The games were hosted by the University at Albany 2005-2007.

“There is a formal bid process that takes place for communities to host our state competitions. The Capital Region was able to pull together a fantastic bid for the 2017 and 2018 State Summer Games,” said Renee Snyder, Vice President of Development and Public Awareness for Special Olympics New York.

“The Summer Games are the largest event of the year and have a strong impact on the host community to supply volunteers, sponsorships to financially sustain the games and venues. It helps to rotate this experience in order to maximize the opportunity in each community. It is also important to our athletes who come from all parts of the state to have an opportunity to host the state games close to home,” continued Snyder.

Special Olympics New York provides year-round sports training and competition in 22 Olympic-style sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the athletes, their families or caregivers. There are 67,162 athletes that train and compete with Special Olympics New York, the largest Special Olympics program in North America.

The Special Olympic Summer Games are the largest of two annual state games and 5,048 competitive experiences held each year throughout New York. Athletes will compete in basketball, aquatics, volleyball, powerlifting, bowling, track and field, gymnastics and tennis. In order to participate in the State Summer Games, athletes must qualify at a local level.

“This is an organization that is very near and dear to myself because I have a very close friend that participates in the Special Olympics. He and his family were very excited to hear of the news that our college would be hosting some of the events,” said Hoyt.

Each hosting location and Special Olympics New York need to receive as much volunteer help as possible.

As a message to prospective volunteers, assistant director of communications and marketing, Eric Bryant said, “To those who have never worked with people that have special needs, we want you to know that it’s rewarding and fun to volunteer at the Special Olympics. Give it a try!”

“Volunteer opportunities range from hands-on technical positions within the sporting events, to helping distribute water and lunches to the athletes. Most of our athletes do not travel with their families, so community participation is incredibly important. It is win-win for the athletes and the fans,” said Snyder.

“We don’t see any obstacles. The college hosts numerous large events every year from the Boat and RV show to Commencement. We’re prepared to host the event, and we’ve done so in the past,” said Bryant.

All events, including the opening and closing ceremonies for the games are free and open to the general public.

In a press release, President Drew Matonak said, “This is a great opportunity to share our new facilities with the community and also a wonderful chance to welcome the athletes and attendees of the Special Olympics to our region and our campus. We are honored to be a part of such an important and exciting event.”

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