Governor’s Hosts 35th Annual Massachusetts Special Olympics Soccer Tournament

Governor’s Hosts 35th Annual Massachusetts Special Olympics Soccer Tournament

This year’s co-heads Tiffany ’23, Lakshmi ’23, and Callie ’23 reflect on last Sunday’s event

On Sunday, November 6, Governor's hosted the 35th 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, Tiffany '23, Lakshmi '23, and Callie '23 to reflect on why they applied to become Co-Heads.

Tiffany ’23: Being a director for the Special Olympics is something I've looked forward to applying for since I first came to Govs. Throughout my life I've attended over five Special Olympics. Watching the joy brought to everyone's faces at this event is enough joy for a lifetime. The idea of making everyone feel so special and welcomed is so heart-warming. As a co-head, we planned and organized every single detail from food trucks, to where athletes should be playing. From start to finish, everything went so smoothly and it was truly rewarding. The players are so incredible and deserve to play real games, which these events offer to them. I love meeting new people and cheering them on and making sure everyone has a good time!

Lakshmi ’23: I knew I wanted to be a co-head right after Special Olympics my ninth grade year. I was a guide with my friend, and even though our team never showed up, and it was way too cold for a fall day, we had a great time cheering on the other games and helping out wherever and whenever we could. The entire day was really well organized and everything seemed to go by plan, which was impressive considering the number of people present. Seeing the athletes, volunteers, and families with excited smiles on their faces on a cold Sunday made me realize I wanted to manage a future Special Olympics. My senior year, Special Olympics ended up being everything I imagined and more, and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to lead this event. Thank you to everyone who helped make this day happen!

Callie ’23: Special Olympics is a day I look forward to every year. The joy it brings to the athletes combined with the tremendous amount of school spirit our community brings makes for one of the most memorable days on our campus. When I found out I was going to be co-heading this year’s event, I was immediately hit with so many emotions: excitement, gratitude, and pressure. While this event seems to go smoothly every year, there is an extensive amount of planning and organization that goes into it every year, and I had so much respect for past leaders as they have made each year seamless. I was ready for the challenge. Reflecting on these past couple of months and Sunday’s tournament, I am so proud of myself and the other co-heads for how it turned out.  It has been the most rewarding experience I have been a part of at Govs, and I hope it brought the athletes and their families as much joy as it brought us. Seeing the smiles on every athlete’s face made every day preparing, worth it.

Whether it was being a guide for the teams during our ninth grade year or being a co-head this year and training 331 volunteers while overseeing the 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 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, and the fulfilling feeling of accomplishment as players realize their potential.

This past Sunday far exceeded our expectations and was everything we hoped for and more. From our volunteers to the weather and everything in between, it was the perfect day. We were blessed with ideal soccer weather—a 75-degree day is a rare occasion for Byfield in the fall. After three months of preparation and with the help of Special Olympics Massachusetts and Mr. Mandel, it was beyond heartwarming to see the joyous smiles of hundreds of athletes and their families. We were so pleased with the number of volunteers, including students, faculty, and staff, that contributed to the success of the day. Whether it was late-night meetings on Tuesdays in October, last Saturday’s set-up, or the 5:00 a.m. wake-up on Sunday, we felt the dedication and commitment of our management team and other volunteers that made this event possible. We cannot thank them enough for their efforts to give every athlete a day they will never forget. 

The hardest part of the Special Olympics is the ending as we realize we won’t be here for next year’s tournament. We will always cherish this memorable day and the impact it had on us—seeing the happiness it brought athletes. Once again, thank you to everyone who contributed to making this event what it was, and we can’t wait to see the future of Special Olympics at the Governor’s Academy.