This past January, the NCAA’s Division III Student Athlete Advisory Committees announced an exciting new partnership with Special Olympics for the 2011-2012 academic/athletic year. Almost immediately, Brad Bankston, Commissioner of Old Dominion Athletic Conference approached Special Olympics Virginia with the intention of forming a lasting partnership between the schools in the ODAC and Special Olympics Virginia.
The first step in that partnership took place at the 2011 NCAA Division III Basketball Championships, hosted by the ODAC and the City of Salem March 18-19. During the semifinal games on Friday evening and the Reece’s All Star Game on Saturday, Special Olympics Virginia athletes participated in a number of activities, ranging from spot shot competitions to exhibition games. All in attendance had an amazing time. Carey Harveycutter, director of facilities for the City of Salem said it best: “I think we had as much fun as the athletes. It was a great experience for all and hopefully, just the beginning of a great relationship between Special Olympics, ODAC, NCAA and the City of Salem.”
The Old Dominion Athletic Conference has distinguished itself among NCAA conferences in its recent efforts to positively impact Special Olympics Virginia and its athletes. Likewise, Special Olympics Virginia is excited about the opportunity to partner with a conference that is so established in the Commonwealth. Every school, with the exception of the Guilford (Greensboro, NC), is located in Virginia, and many have already worked with local Special Olympics programs for years. The future is truly bright for both Special Olympics Virginia and the ODAC.
Special Olympics Virginia athlete Jeannie Ritchie is all smiles at the Division III Basketball Championships.