By Dom Fraboni
Although Concordia College student athletes already have a lot of commitments, they still make sure to make time for community involvement. During the 2014-2015 academic school year, the members of the Cobber Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) dedicated themselves to becoming more and more involved with the Fargo Area Special Olympics. Of the many events that SAAC volunteered at throughout the year, there are a few that stand out.
This past January, the Cobber Basketball team was charged with the task of running a coaching clinic for the Special Olympics basketball coaches. Six Concordia Basketball players headed the clinic, along with their assistant coach Grant Hemmingsen. The clinic ran for roughly two hour. During this time, about twenty-five Special Olympic coaches watched and took notes as the Cobber basket team ran through numerous different drills, games, and skill building exercises. Cobber Basketball Assistant Coach Grant Hemmingsen said “this clinic was a great opportunity for both their coaches and our players. Many of our guys want to go into coaching, and a clinic like this is a great step.”
The coaching clinic was such a great success! SAAC has continued working with the Special Olympic basketball teams. Members of SAAC did this by volunteering at the teams’ Sunday practices to help with their drills and also have a little fun. SAAC member and Concordia Football player, Hank VanLiew, says, “working so closely with Special Olympics has been one of the most powerful experiences in [his] life.” After attending a few weeks of practices, SAAC invited two of the Special Olympic teams to play at halftime of a Concordia Basketball game.
On April 22nd, SAAC worked with the Special Olympic basketball program culminated at Concordia’s Golden Cobbs Award Show. Using some of the money raised from an InSports apparel fundraiser, SAAC bought medals to present to the Special Olympic athletes at the award show. Unfortunately, the athletes had a commitment already, but they were still honored at the Golden Cobbs for their intense passion and relentless effort that they put into their sport.
Although SAAC’s work with the Special Olympic basketball program is only a fraction of all they do with the organization, their continued work throughout the year show how huge of an impact athletics can have on an entire group of people. Along with their work in basketball, SAAC volunteered at Special Olympic bowling, swimming, volleyball, track and field, and the Special Olympic pancake breakfast. SAAC is anxious to continue to strengthen this partnership in the future years.