PARKVILLE, Mo. – Park University athletics isn't just about games or practices. The Pirates are also about giving back to the community. Last month, two teams got the chance to give back to the community and the chance to work with athletes that are involved with Special Olympics.
On September 11, the men's basketball team hosted the Park Hill South Special Olympics Team in Breckon Sports Center. The players ran some drills with the students from Park Hill South. After the clinic was over, the men's basketball team took the Park Hill South Special Olympics Team to the café to eat dinner together.
"It was awesome to see the athletes dancing, smiling, laughing and cheering each other on after each basket they had made," said junior, Josh Rutland. "I think this makes their year when they get to come and hang out with college athletes."
The men's basketball team ran ball handling, cones and shooting drills for the eight athletes that came from Park Hill South Special Olympics Team. The Pirates had mixed all these drills together throughout the clinic for the athletes. Some of the shooting drills were layups, free throws, 3-pointers and mid-range shots in the paint.
"Taking away from this experience it is not about us," said Rutland. "It is about helping others and giving back to our community."
At the end of the clinic in Breckon Sports Center, the men's basketball team went to café with the athletes from Park Hill South.
"A good experience for our team," said Rutland. "We were able to learn more about the athletes when we went to café. They were also able to learn more about us, not just being college basketball players."
On September 24, the softball team went to Kansas to help with Special Olympics in Kansas. The athletes helped with aiding athletes and officials with the bocce ball tournament.
"The overall joy the athletes had at the tournament," said junior, Madison Klein. "The athletes got to compete like a real athlete and had so much joy when they went up to get their medals."
The softball team officiated bocce ball for 12 courts. At each court, there were three different tasks at hand to help with the tournament. The three different jobs were a marker, scorekeeper and leading the game. The Pirates worked with about 200 athletes at this bocce ball tournament.
"I think what the team took away from this experience is never take things for granted, communication skills and teamwork," said Klein. "Communication was a big key in the game of bocce ball, but it is also a key item in any sport you play. There was a lot of teamwork that went into the game of bocce ball to help the athletes get through it, starting with the writer, speaker, and the measurer."
All three areas that a softball member for the Park team helped with were important to the game for the athletes. The athletes from the bocce ball tournament competing had to teach some of the Pirates the rules of the game.
"I think the team took away from helping these athletes was not taking anything for granted as [Madison] Klein had already said," said head softball coach Lindsey Derry. "It was also eye-opening for us to see the joy these athletes had to be out there. It was also neat to have them teach us some things about their sport."
Check throughout the year to read about all the different community service projects the Park Pirates do this year at www.parkathletics.com. Also follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at ParkPirates.