This past Sunday, March 5, St. Mark's hosted the annual Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) Junior and Unified Player Development State Tournaments. Eleven teams and more than 120 Special Olympic athletes participated, and more than thirty St. Markers volunteered to help run the events.
SOMA provides year-round sports training, athletic competition and other health-related programming for athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state. The Junior division (ages 8-15) and the Unified Development Division (all ages) compered for their respective championships in both the MFAC gym, and the Elkins gym on the St. Mark's campus and in the Harlow Gymnasium at nearby Fay School, this year helping St. Mark's with the tournaments. Special Olympics athletes from across Massachusetts trained and worked hard for their season ending experience.
Once again, Maeve McCuine '17 (pictured at left) was the driving force behind the day. A boarder from Northborough, MA, Maeve first brought the Special Olympics to St. Mark's as a Fourth Former. "It was something we used to do at our middle school," she explained. "I thought it would do well here." And it has: this is the third consecutive year of SOMA at St. Mark's. Under Maeve's direction, with a supportive guidance and assistance from Lori Karlsson and Jessica Becque—respectively Director and Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs at St. Mark's—St. Markers once again worked as scorekeepers, timers, announcers, and assisting staff personnel on Sunday, making it a very successful day for the participating athletes, their families, and friends. There was also a snack bar and raffles to raise funds for SOMA.
Maeve is a Monitor this year and will be graduating from St. Mark's in June. She would like to see involvement with Special Olympics continue as part of the St. Mark's experience. "I've loved doing this for three years," she says. "I hope someone will keep the tradition going. It's a lot of responsibility, a lot of work behind the scenes. But it is for a great cause. And it's so rewarding to see the faces of the athletes at the end of the day. There's so much joy and satisfaction."