On Saturday, March 10, 2022, young Special Olympians from across Indiana came together for the tenth annual Special Olympics Youth Basketball Tournament at the University of Indianapolis.
Since 2010, the Special Olympics Youth Basketball Tournament has served as the only basketball tournament in the world designed specifically for Special Olympians ages eight to 21. Teams competed in a 5v5 basketball tournament, skills competition, and clinic led by UIndy’s Women’s Basketball Team. This one-of-a-kind event was organized and operated by UIndy students in an Applied Event Management course.
“Everything that happened on March 26 was the result of the students’ efforts,” said UIndy Professor and Sport Management Program Director Jennifer VanSickle. “It was the students that planned and implemented every aspect of the event, from securing and supervising volunteers to creating the game schedule and making sure that the day ran smoothly. It was the ultimate resume-building experience.”
This year’s tenth anniversary was another success.
“I thought it was successful because everyone in the facility had a fun time and enjoyed the basketball games,” said student Ro Thang ‘23 (Sport Management). “It went very smoothly from start to finish. My favorite moment was seeing the excitement on all the players’ faces and the high energy during the games.”
Ro was a part of the UIndy Applied Event Management course and worked on the Marketing committee. He and his partner were responsible for obtaining sponsorships and donations for the event, as well as promoting the event through social media and collaboration with local news stations.
“I thought that this was a great experience,” said Ro. “We learned what needs to be done in order to host an event. Also, reaching out to people who you don’t really know gives you more confidence in a lot of ways. I would definitely recommend taking this class because this is a real-life situation. You can get a lot from that.”
The tournament was also made possible by about 200 volunteers and community supporters who came out to watch the action. The volunteers came from across the UIndy community and assisted with checking-in teams, running scoreboards, selling merchandise and more! They also organized and ran ancillary events for the athletes to participate in while they waited between games. Additionally, the UIndy Choir gave a spectacular performance of the national anthem to open the tournament. The UIndy Football Team kept that high energy going by cheering on the Special Olympians competing throughout the day.
“We really appreciate the choir, and the football team coming,” said Ro. “They made it very special for everyone in the building.”