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Home  >  Reading and Writing  >  Pass the Word
Writing and Empathy: Reflections on the Special Olympics  -  Special Olympics, Floor Hockey
By Whitney McFayden, Steller Secondary School « Prev   Page 7 of 9   Next »

I went to the floor hockey venue at the FedEx hangar as a member of Uruguay’s spectator team. Within the first ten minutes of watching them play the Dominican Republic, it was clear that these athletes had great command of the game they were playing. All of the players ran up and down the floor with energy and vigor, focused on the game at hand.
'Floor Hockey' by Lang Van Dommelen, 6th grade

When I arrived, Uruguay was down by one point, but quickly regained the upper hand, playing their first string against the Dominican Republic’s relief players. Both teams quickly demonstrated their talent, but Uruguay’s players stood out. They dodged members of the opposing team who were attempting to stop their offensive progress; the doughnut-shaped puck was skillfully being passed between team members, gliding across the floor with direction from one stick to another. Like a flock of birds, they moved together, one person bringing the puck down towards the goal, while his collaborators moved into scoring position.

The Dominican Republic moved back to their half of the court and crowded defensively around their goal. They crowded the Uruguayan player who had the puck, their sticks all struggling for the puck’s center hole. Finally, one of their players regained control again and shot the puck toward Uruguay’s goal. The Uruguayan goalie extended a leg to block the puck from entering the net.

The goalie passed the puck halfway back down the floor to a smaller player, whose extraordinarily dark skin stood out through the face hole in his white helmet. He proceeded to run toward the Dominican Republic’s goal, exercising complete control and authority over the prize on the end of his stick. Members of the opposing team rushed towards him in hopes of gaining it, but he turned his back on one opposing player after another, sliding past nearly the whole team, until he found himself right in front of the net. With an impressive jerk of his forearm and wrists, he flicked the puck into the air, only to be stopped by the open net. One of the referees blew his whistle, and that noise was joined by cries of delight from the crowd. The whole Uruguayan team let out a cry to match, leaping into the air as one. After only a few minutes of play, the Uruguayans had evened the score.

'Hockey' by Devan Morgan, 6 years

After the excitement had settled, the teams regrouped and began to select new players to send out onto the floor for the remainder of the period. At this point I had a chance to reflect on the performance I had just seen. It was evident that the players all had a firm grasp of offense and defense and had needed little direction from their coaches or teammates on the sidelines. They had known where their skill was most needed, and moved and acted accordingly. Not knowing what to expect coming to this event, their skill surprised me. I felt as if I had been watching a game of lunchtime gym hockey between athletic teenage students back at my own school.

The Uruguayan team proceeded to win their game, and when the final whistle blew every member of the team ran out onto the field and threw their arms around one another, sometimes knocking each other down with their excitement. They were not the only ones who acted this way: the Dominican Republic team gathered on the floor to hug their teammates as well. After reaching out to everyone on his or her own team, players dressed in blue and red mingled together, congratulating the opposing team on a game well played.

'Hockey' by Ben Curtiss, 6 years

Several players approached the sidelines, where the crowd was still cheering, yelling "Bravo!" and "Ole!" in the native language of the athletes. They would embrace five or six complete strangers in a row, not being afraid to press their sweat-covered cheeks against those of their fans. Pictures were taken, each team by itself, both teams together, a particular player with a particular fan. The positive attitude the Dominican Republic team displayed after a hard loss shed light on this year’s motto for the games: Let me win, and if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

Before taking the time to get involved with the World Winter Games, I was a member of the populace who was for the most part ignorant of the kinds of adversity that the athletes face and the excitement that comes with success. Looking at old newspaper articles and photos following the games, I am reminded of the pride and joy of accomplishment. I feel it myself when I know that I’ve tried my hardest, given my all, and against all odds achieved a personal best or risen to a new level of achievement. Regardless of one’s abilities, the triumph that we all feel when trying our hardest was demonstrated and reinforced at the Games. The humble and ecstatic expressions of joy were sincere and heartwarming to those who observed them. I guess I compete for the same reasons these extraordinary athletes do.

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Next page:   Special Olympics, Behind the Scenes Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 


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