Special Olympians rub shoulders with HSU athletes at practice meet


ABILENE, TX - Wednesday afternoon, the sounds of cheering and the feel of competition filled the air at Hardin-Simmons University, as HSU student athletes were put to work welcoming in the Special Olympics of Texas.

"Yeah! Good job, good job!" yelled HSU baseball's Colt Ritzel at the incoming pack of racers.

For the 8 th time, HSU Athletics held a practice meet to prep the Special Olympians for its upcoming area and regional meets later this month, with both Cowboys and Cowgirls serving as volunteers running the event.

"We are excited to be at Hardin-Simmons for our eight annual track and field day," said Luann Chastain, the area director for Special Olympics of West Texas. "It is a great opportunity for our athletes to interact with the Hardin-Simmons student-athletes. We appreciate all of the work that goes into this event."

The Special Olympics of Texas provides events and year round training for children and adults with intellectual disabilities across Texas. This meet, featuring over 120 athletes from the Big Country.

Students competed in the modified javelin, standing long jump and running long jump, shot put, softball/tennis ball throw, and of course -- the running events.

But it was easy to see, the true highlight of the afternoon was all about the competitors sharing their love for sports and competition, no matter what team they represented.

"When that student athlete from Hardin-Simmons takes the time, and they're high-fiving them and giving them pointers -- their face lights up," explained Chastain. "Especially when one of our athletes throws like a really good shot put or something and they just explode. It makes our athletes feel really good about themselves."

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