Volleyball Special Olympics Return

Ellie Furr, Staff writer

In 2018, the Winter Olympics were a hot topic among people all over the world, but at Chamblee Charter High School, a different sort of Olympics took place.

The Volleyball Special Olympics, which occurs annually in DeKalb County, were hosted at Chamblee again this year.

“Chamblee has participated in Special Olympics as long as we’ve had programs here,” said Special Education teacher Susan Katz. “We’ve hosted volleyball [at Chamblee] at least five years now.”

Special Olympics is an international organization that provides children and adults with disabilities an opportunity to compete in various sporting competitions. It also allows the kids to interact with people that they wouldn’t otherwise meet or develop relationships with. A branch of this organization, Special Olympics Georgia, coordinates sporting events for students at schools all over the state of Georgia.   

As a part of the Special Olympics Georgia program, around 100 athletes from different schools in DeKalb, including 16 students from Chamblee, participated in several volleyball matches on Friday, February 23, 2018.

We [Chamblee] had one full team with several cheerleaders,” said Katz.

In addition to competitors and teachers, many coordinators and volunteers were present at the event. The Chamblee National Honor Society (NHS) volunteers played a huge role in making sure the event flowed smoothly and provided encouragement for the athletes.

“Volleyball special olympics is my favorite volunteer event we do all year,” said senior Julia Hufford, a member of NHS.

For the coordinators of the event, volunteers are invaluable.

“I couldn’t do this without volunteers,” said Katz. “NHS does so much for me and I cannot thank them enough.”

Volunteers were tasked with a number of duties, from scorekeeping to putting down tape for the boundary lines of the volleyball courts. But perhaps their most important assignment was to cheer on the athletes.

“I cheered them on, whether they were winning or losing, and each time I got a smile back,” said senior Daniela Villaroel.

It was evident that the athletes thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to interact with other students at Chamblee who they don’t see on a daily basis.

“The kids were very sweet and happy to chat and even kicked around a soccer ball with some of the volunteers for a little bit,” said Eshaan Agrawal, a junior and another volunteer.

Katz along with several volunteers noticed the athletes’ beaming faces throughout the entire duration of the event.

“My favorite part was seeing the smile on the players’ faces when they scored or won a game,” said senior Saif Ahmed.

The NHS volunteers who helped at the event also gained much from the experience, not just service hours.

“It just made me really happy,” said Ahmed.

Each of the volunteers knew that the work they were doing was truly beneficial to their peers and school community.

“To the kids participating, it means the world to have so many people paying attention to them and cheering them on,” said Villaroel.

For the volunteers, spectators, and teachers, it was very special to see the happiness that each athlete exuded, whether they were winning or losing the game.

“It reminds me why we play sports and do anything,” said Villaroel. “It’s not about the game but about getting the opportunity to play.”