Saint Francis University is hosting the Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Central Sectional Spring Games, featuring about 280 Special Olympians and 120 coaches from 14 counties in Central Pennsylvania. Athletes will compete in basketball, track and field, swimming and tennis.
Counties represented include: Adams, Area M, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Lycoming, Mifflin/Juniata, Somerset and Tioga.
Events will take place in the DeGol Arena and the Ebensburg Tennis Center, as well as Central Cambria High School (athletics and track and field). Olympic-style award ceremonies for individual and team events will be ongoing throughout the day. Athletes will enjoy an Olympic Village where they can take a break and decorate their own Smiley cookies, compliments of Parkhurst Dining Services. Lunch will be provided through the generosity of Sheetz Corporation.
"Passion, drive, work ethic, dedication, teamwork, perseverance, athleticism, and heart are words that come to mind when I hear Special Olympics,” expressed Eric Edwards, a senior at Saint Francis University double-majoring in biology and psychology, and student leader and volunteer coordinator for the event. “This event means so much to the athletes, their coaches and families. It is an honor to be a part of such an incredible tradition and to help these athletes make their dreams a reality.”
The event is a collaborative effort between the University and SOPA, and is managed by students under the guidance of staff advisors. More than 150 Saint Francis University students will volunteer at the event.
"Volunteering for Special Olympics encompasses two main values we strive for as an athletic department,” said Jaime Lipski, Associate Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services and event co-advisor. “This annual event allows our student-athletes to give back to the community, while assisting and encouraging fellow athletes to pursue their dreams and compete to the best of their abilities.”
“Saint Francis University and Special Olympics have been community partners for more than 20 years,” said Lisa Georgiana, Director of the Center for Service & Learning and event co-advisor. “The contest is mutually beneficial for both the Special Olympians, coaches and their families, as well as our student volunteers. Smiles and hugs are abundant. Our students look forward to this event all year long.”
Opening Ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. with an Olympic style procession complete with an Olympic torch and Color Guard. Contests take place immediately following.
Schedule as follows:
- 9 a.m. Opening Ceremonies | DeGol Arena @ SFU
- 10 a.m. - 4 p.m Basketball Events | DeGol Arena @SFU
- 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Aquatics | DeGol Arena Pool @ SFU
- 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Athletics (Track & Field) Events | Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg
- 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tennis Contests | Ebensburg Tennis Center @ Lake Rowena Ebensburg
- 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Olympic Village | Stokes-Twyman Room @ SFU & Central Cambria HS field in Ebensburg
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*Awards ceremonies will be ongoing all day at above locations.