Special Olympics DG
2010 Massachusetts Special Olympics Summer Games at Harvard University
On June 19th New England Flying Disc Association held an introduction to disc golf at the 2010 Special Olympics Massachusetts Summer Games event, in an area called Olympic Town, set on the campus of historic Harvard University in Boston.
The goal of NEFA is to promote the growth of disc golf and other disc related sports in and around New England. Through collective efforts within NEFA we really wanted to make a connection with a portion of the community that may have never been introduced to the sport we love.
NEFA extended a hand to Matt Ruxton the Assistant Vice President of Sports Management for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts via e-mail with an offer to start a relationship between our organizations. The following response we received from Mr. Ruxton was welcoming:
“ Thanks for inquiring about Special Olympics Massachusetts, at this time we do not offer disc golf as one of our core sports. As a sporting and health organization we encourage all our athletes to participate in as many sporting activities as they can. We would be willing to work with NEFA to promote and introduce the game of disc golf to our athletes. I think this could be a very fun sport for our athletes to learn and pursue. “
After a few correspondences Mr. Ruxton suggested we come to the Summer Games and demonstrate the sport in an area named “O Town” directed by Elisabeth Nangle Sports Intern for the Special Olympics. “O” Town is a place where athletes, family, spectators visit to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, food and this year disc golf. After a few e-mails with Ms. Nangle, we arranged a meeting to go over layout and any other information voulunteers would need for the Event.
We had a location, date, and time set. The next step was to gather volunteers and equipment. NEFA contacted EDGE to purchase disc for the Event Mr. David Shope gave us some vaulable information and a very generous deal on disc. The Special Olympics requested we submit a write up about disc golf so coaches would be familiar of what the sport was. Nefa member Nicky King volunteered to do the write up. Our plan was to set up a 3-6 hole layout for the day along with clinics and information on where courses where located throughout the area.
The morning of the event arrived. When we showed up, the amount of people was shocking. Crowds of athletes and spectators where preparing for the day of competition. We started to set up and were quickly informed that the area we had designated would be scaled down due to a large police convoy that would be ending close to us. A common trait in disc golfers is adaptability so we decided to go with 2 baskets and focus on short game.
Before we could get the first basket set up we had interested participants lined up. Soon plastic was soaring through the air crashing into chains. They really seemed to quickly develop a good shot. The crowd grew fast, filled with curiosity, all wanting a chance to throw. The crew hustled to keep a disc in the hand of anyone who wanted to participate. Just when we thought the crew was understaffed, Ms. Nangle informed us of a police dog exhibit that would be taking place. We had to shut operations down for a brief period of time. The team huddled together to come up with a game plan for the bigger crowd. We came up with a putting game. Two baskets each, with stations set up several feet apart, and ending with a 35 footer.
Each participant could warm up on the early stations then had 5 shots to make the 35 footer. I was amazed with the determination to sink that big putt. Many times a participant would be down to that last shot for the prize faced with the pressue and bang center chains. Other participants were given a more one on one lesson and then given a disc. Guardians were informed of where to find information to pursue disc golf in the future. Many of the participants said “ this should be an Olympic event!”
The day simmered down and the headline act was preparing to hit the stage. The crowd slowly thinned and we made the decision to call it a good day's work satisfied with the postive impact we made for the sport of Disc Golf.
NEFA member Jim Bobka created a unique plaque to present to the Special Olympics thanking them for the opportunity to share our love. The future of NEFA, Kyra Graustein presented the plaque to the Director Ms. Liz Nangle.
I wanted to take the time and write this article so more disc golfers would get involved. Its through positive relationships within our communities that will help disc golf grow to the next level. A successful PDGA Event was happening the same weekend at Borderlands State Park directed by Matt Deangelis so overall it was a great weekend for disc golf in Massachusetts. The reward you receive from growing the sport is far greater then any rated round. The smiles on the faces of people first experiencing the Sport we love will give you bright memories that last a lifetime
Thanks to NEFA, the PDGA, EDGE, Special Olympics. The eager volunteers for the day were Pro Grandmaster Paul Sullivan, Arty and Kyra Graustien, FlatRock Disc Golf owners Sean, Helen, and Gus Franchi who offered many years of experience to the particpants.
Titan Bariloni PDGA 39800