Clarksville, Ark- The Lady Eagles Softball team helped facilitate a state Special Olympics softball tournament held in Clarksville on Saturday.
U of O Head softball coach Elizabeth Caroscio jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the Special Olympics after she was approached by a mutual friend about helping put the tournament on. Caroscio says that it felt necessary and was a “no-brainer” given that this was a softball specific event, and it would be a great chance to get her players involved in the community.
Preparations for the tournament began a month before the actual tournament as four Lady Eagles volunteered their free time to help Clarksville’s Forrester-Davis Development Center team practice. The four sophomores - Katie Pitchford, Jessica George, Emily Burns, and Sarah Otteman - shared nothing but joy as they reflected on their experiences with the athletes.
“After the first day, it was easy to keep coming back,” said Burns, a catcher from Lonoke. “It was mutually beneficial and was cool to know that they saw us as heroes for the day.”
There were many great memories to take away from the entire experience for the Lady Eagles softball team. All of them echo the impact that the event has made on them, and the interactions with the Special Olympians is one that they will never forget.
“They were very funny people,” says Cassie Saorrono, a second baseman from Stockton, Calif. “One Olympian kept saying that he was going to be the next Babe Ruth and play right field for the New York Yankees.”
Burns had an emotional interaction with one of the Olympians as well.
“One guy, who could only swing with one hand and used the other to hold his cane, made contact and ran out a base hit, cane and all. When he got to first base, the fans stood up and cheered. That combined with his reaction brought tears to my eyes.”
Although there are no set plans to make this an annual event in Clarksville, Caroscio says that she would love to participate in the event if the opportunity comes.
By Daniel Gallegos, Assistant Sports Information Director