Governor’s Hosts 33rd Annual Massachusetts Special Olympics Soccer Tournament

Governor’s Hosts 33rd Annual Massachusetts Special Olympics Soccer Tournament

On Sunday, November 7, Governor's hosted the 33rd annual Massachusetts Special Olympics Soccer Tournament. Each year, a small group of seniors leads the planning efforts, including coordinating over 300 student and employee volunteers from the Governor's community. We asked this year's leaders, Anna '22, Megan '22, and Noah '22 to reflect on their experience as Co-Heads.

Whether it was being a guide for the teams during our freshman year or being a co-director this year and training 325 volunteers while overseeing the entire event, we feel joy in building a community where everyone can best demonstrate their capabilities and have fun. We worked with school administrators and the Special Olympics Massachusetts chapter’s coordinators and led a fundraiser to host a tournament where students, faculty, and staff unite to build a bridge between the Special Olympics community and the Academy. The event itself is more than just playing soccer or the feeling of joy when players score a goal--it’s also about the relationships you make along the way, the warmth from smiles and loud cheers that echo around campus amidst the November chill, and the fulfilling feeling of accomplishment as players realize their potential. 

As co-directors of Special Olympics this year, we strived to reinvigorate the spirit and positive attitude towards the event after last year’s in-person tournament was canceled. We devoted ourselves to teaching the student body about the tournament’s importance as it is a unifying event for both our school community and special needs players. We connected with students and athletes through our morning announcements while simultaneously generating an online presence on social media--an aspect we further developed this year by having Instagram poll interactions and Gameday Takeover vlogs that detail a day-in-a-life of a student-athlete.
While leading meeting discussions with the Special Olympics committee heads, we’ve learned that our interactions foster an exchange of knowledge. In preparation for the event, a head from the Opening Ceremony committee approached us to say, “Whatever you need us to do, whenever you need us to do it, we’ll have it by the set deadline.” 

“That’s what we like to hear!” we exclaimed as we felt immense gratification for the dedication of every student in our community. We understand that though we may be co-directors, we’re not capable of hosting this event without the support of every head, shadow, and volunteer--students, faculty, and staff alike. 

The day arrived and it was everything we could have hoped for and more. We were overjoyed by the number of smiles across campus; from volunteers cheering with cowbells and poster boards as buses and cars arrived to the athletes waving in excitement, every individual at the tournament was ecstatic for the return of the event. One memorable moment was our opening ceremony where we heard Selina ‘22 sing the national anthem followed by the ceremonial lighting of the torch, signaling the start of the games. And one of our proudest moments was seeing the accumulation of our hard work come to life as shadows stepped up to their jobs and heads radioed in and solved problems. Throughout the day, we saw several players recognize and greet volunteers from the Academy whom they met years ago in previous tournaments--it brought us a sense of fulfillment knowing that despite COVID-19 restrictions, we have reinvigorated spirits, while simultaneously allowing all athletes and volunteers to reconnect with one another. To end the day, we created high-five tunnels at the awards ceremony--an aspect of the tournament we thought we had to sacrifice. And we can’t forget the best volunteer of all: the weather--one great actor.

We’re extremely proud that we’re able to meet, work, and learn with such proactive leaders. By having the opportunity to begin organizing the event from day one, we’ve been able to see how deeply impactful this event is amongst our community. As we train and oversee every committee, from parking to opening ceremony, to venue directors, and to field coordinators, we were able to gain a new perspective that illustrates the true power of the human spirit--every individual volunteer, including students, faculty, and staff, brought their transformative enthusiasm to promote acceptance and inclusion and contributed to the tournament’s lively atmosphere.
As many faculty and volunteers said, “You couldn’t have asked for a better day.”   

Special Olympics volunteers created high-five tunnels at the awards ceremony.