Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Special Olympics

Daughter played in her first softball game Tuesday night. Last year she fell and broke her ankle right after the first practice, so she had been waiting a long time for this. The game was an hour away—one of the joys of living in Tiny Village.

It was an interesting game, to say the least. The other team was a unified team, meaning that they had “partners” who were part of the team in addition to the Special Olympians. They didn’t have an umpire, so family members from both teams were recruited. Their first base coach had to leave early, so one of our coaches filled in.

Their pitcher was finishing up a hamburger when the game started, so he’d stick the sandwich in his mouth and hold it for each pitch. He even fielded a ball while holding the hamburger in his mouth. When the game was over, Daughter had to search for a coach who knew who had won and what the final score was. Our team won, 13-7. Daughter had two hits. The first one came after 4 strikes. Both were soft grounders that should have been outs, but the partners were careful to let our athletes experience some success.

Daughter played second base, and fielded a couple of balls and missed a couple of balls. She didn’t start, and was so nervous when she got into the game. Her first at bat, the first base coach didn’t hold her up on a fly ball, and she was tagged out. She was very upset, even though they told her it wasn’t her fault. She had an anxiety attack, and broke out into a cold sweat and started shaking. She didn’t take the field, telling the coaches she thought she was having a low blood sugar. They quickly signaled me. I ran into the dugout, and I was sure she was low. She was shaking so much she couldn’t check her own blood sugar, so I did it, telling her to calm down and take deep breaths.

Her blood sugar was a little high. I reassured her she was fine, and told her to drink some water and relax, and she’d be fine. One of the coaches asked me if she could go back in, and I suggested she ask Daughter what she wanted to do. Daughter went back in. She was so excited on the drive home that she had to call Granddad and all her aunts and uncle to tell them her team won and she got two hits.

I love Special Olympics. I love the fact that Daughter has an opportunity to experience success someplace. It does so much for her confidence. On the way home she talked about what she needs to do to learn to drive and get a job in the community. It’s amazing what a poorly fielded ground ball after 4 strikes did for her self-esteem.

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