Special Olympics Indiana (SOIN) is partnering with Indianapolis University to host the 10th consecutive SOIN Youth State Basketball Tournament at Nicoson Hall on March 26. The contest is the largest basketball tournament in the state and consists of more than 275 teams, according to the Director of Athletic Programs at Special Olympics Indiana and 2012 UIndy graduate Patrick Kozlowski. He helps with KINS 481: Applied Sport Management, which consists of an average of 10 students who plan and organize the one-day event.
“As for it being the 10, we’re going to play around a bit. It won’t be much different in terms of how the tournament works and what we do. Basketball is always front and center because that’s what we’re here for. dr. [Jennifer] VanSickle and I have some special things that we seek to showcase. . . “said Kozlowski. “Some things that can be hung up in Nicoson or presented to the athletic department as a thank you on behalf of Special Olympics saying, ‘Hey, thanks for putting this together and being great partners for the past 10 years,” as well as something to show off when other people enter college, they can look up and say, “Hey look, UIndy has this awesome partnership with Special Olympics.”
Kariden Jones, a sophomore in Exercise Science and Pre-Occupational Therapy, is enrolled in KINS 481 this semester and sits on the Marketing Committee. The students of the course are divided into various committees which share responsibility for the event.
“We have an event management committee that organizes and plans the running of the show. Then we have facilities [management committee]. There are a bunch of different committees going on,” Jones said. “From there, we meet twice a week to review what our committee has accomplished over the past week and to check in with others on what others are doing, but a lot of the course is done in outside the classroom.”
Jones said she decided to take the course because she was part of her high school’s Special Olympics basketball event. She also participated in her school’s Best Buddies program.
“These two organizations together grounded me . . . and I grounded my knowledge in Special Olympics,” Jones said. it’s quite my wheelhouse.”
Students decide how they want to share their responsibilities, Kozlowski said. One or two students act as tournament directors who oversee the competition, others oversee and recruit volunteers, set up the volunteer website, some students are in charge of facility management and finally a group that oversees events auxiliaries that athletes can participate in, according to Kozlowski.
“Our athletes, they like to have fun. So they come and play a game and they can have an hour or two between their second game. What can we do to give them a good experience while they’re here? said Kozlowski. “We try to do fun games or activities. Maybe that’s where we’re trying to get some of the student groups on campus to come in and say, do you want to do arts with them or like the men’s basketball team or came and did clinics already, the occupational therapy student group, physiotherapy groups arrived. . . .”
Each committee develops a schedule for their activities throughout the semester, which decides their due dates that keep the event planning process moving, according to Jones. She said that each committee has a different schedule because their tasks are not comparable. For example, Jones said the volunteer committee’s schedule is different from the marketing committee’s because she can’t set up a balloon arch until the day before the event while the volunteer committee has to recruit volunteers for months. in advance.
According to Kozlowski, the event intends to be staged similarly to the regular Olympics that recently took place in Beijing, China. The event has a large production of opening ceremonies, which Kozlowski says is something the students hope to replicate on a much smaller scale. He said that the uniqueness of the tournament is that from year to year, the heart of the tournament is the same, but the bells and whistles, or the outward appearance, are different because the course welcomes new students every year with new ideas.
“We want it to be a fun and welcoming environment. We want you to come in and be excited for what’s to come that day,” Jones said.
According to Jones, KINS 481 students want the whole experience to be enjoyable rather than walking into an empty gym. Kozlowski said CARE events tend to be a place where their athletes feel like they can be themselves without judgment.
“I like to tell people that Special Olympics events are probably one of the few places in the world where you can go and there’s nothing but pure joy on the faces of the competitors,” Kozlowski said. . “Most of our athletes love winning a gold medal. That’s obviously why they’re there. But more than that, they like to compete with friends, meet other people [and] enjoy.”