By Harli Broge | Contributor
The Special Olympics basketball tournament "Take it to the Hoop" holds a special place in sophomore Maddy Martinson's heart.
"A girl on my floor, the former co-director (of "Take it to the Hoop"), she saw that . . . I have a close family member that grew up with special needs," Martinson said. "So I have always had a heart for those people."
The Special Olympics is an organization that provides athletic training and competitions to adults and children who have physical and intellectual disabilities, and "Take it to the Hoop" is the biggest special olympics event that Taylor hosts. Families from all over Indiana come to participate in the event.
"Take it to the Hoop" has two events in which people can take part: the team basketball tournament and the skills challenge, where people can compete in contests like free throws and dribbling individually. Around 40 teams came to participate in the event, which took place on March 2. The tournament ran all day in the Taylor Fieldhouse with games starting every hour.
"The goal is definitely to bring this community together, and it's a place where all these teams can show off their skills," Martinson said. "Our (job) is to be there to empower them."
This year, Martinson's job was to gather volunteers for the event. Students in coordinated red shirts kept score, ran skills challenges, led teams around campus and shot hoops with the participants.
Senior Sydnee Piercefield, one of the 70 volunteers, helped out for her fourth year in a row. Piercefield got involved because she is an education major with an interest in special education.
"My first year was really exciting because I didn't know any of the kids going into it," Piercefield said. ". . . it was really cool to see these people who didn't even know us that were so excited that we were there, cheering them on."
Piercefield loves being a part of the special olympics community, and she enjoys seeing students she has worked with in the past being able to participate in the tournament.
She also said that the joy and the impact that "Take it to the Hoop" brings is important to her, and it is a platform for them to get to know one another and have fun.
The different volunteer positions range from scorekeeper to team host depending on how much time you want to spend at the tournament. Martinson said that there will be announcements in your Taylor email about the different opportunities to get involved with this event next year.
"(My favorite part is) seeing all the smiles throughout the day . . . because they get the opportunity to come and play," Martinson said.''
If you're interested in more information for the weekly Special Olympics swim or the "Take it to the Hoop" event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.