Every year in the off-season the anxiety and apprehension of how a team will come
together and form a culture that could be successful is overwhelming. Sleepless
nights over the past twenty years have recently been remedied by my “go to”
solution of having our team give back to the community through getting involved
with clinics, practices, and participating in fundraising efforts for people with

Special Olympics captured my heart over six years ago and have never let my team
and I down. Getting involved with people with disabilities and helping them play a
game that we love has only enhanced my passion and desire to continue the quest of
getting young athletes to help athletes with disabilities. After introducing our
players to the concept of helping others and observing the joy and love that is
spread through talking, joking, and instructing has brought tears to my eyes many
times during an event.

The steps we have taken to build this program in our community are:

  1. Contact the area headquarters for people with disabilities
  2. Set up a meet and greet event at an area restaurant or meeting place
  3. Players introduce themselves and personally invite an individual to a
    practice where they will become their “Buddy”
  4. Have individuals with disabilities participate in our practice and at
    designated times our players will give a short skills session
  5. Invite the practice participants to a game to be a part of the dugout and hand
    out shirts
  6. Post game picnic and photo session
  7. Follow-up with each players Buddy and learn what other sports they play
    and plan to go an event and be their personal cheerleader.



By: Tony Vlahvoic