Friday, July 8, 2011


With the games over, the team home, and the blog updated, it's now time to close this blog. Many thanks to the visitors who have been following us here, and to and St. Mary's College for linking to us. The guys were constantly impressed by the steadily growing number of hits...about 150 per day! It was just more evidence that indicated the importance of what we were doing. So, again, thanks!

And what we were doing was important in several ways.

First, as the first American soccer team to win gold at the Special Olympics, we have raised the profile of the sport within Team USA, hopefully urging the organization to field not just 5v5, but 7v7 and maybe even an 11v11 unified team at the next world games in 2015.

Second, in winning and attracting attention from readers like you, as well as media outlets around the world, we have contributed to the Special Olympics message about mentally challenged individuals. That message emphasizes the ABILITIES of challenged individuals, rather than focusing on their "disabilities." Indeed, the members of Team USA are not "handicapped" any more than so-called "normal" or "fully-functioning" individuals. We all have different abilities, and this team's members have a wealth of them -- an extraordinary sense of hope, a willingness to commit and learn and adjust, and most powerfully, a yearning to seek and enjoy happiness. These attributes are not evaluated in an IQ test. But they should be, because these skills hold the keys to improving and enjoying life. So, in the important areas of hard work and pursuing happiness, we can all learn a thing or two from Team USA.

Finally, while this team has taught others a few lessons, the guys also have learned a couple of lessons of their own. Mostly about staying positive in the face of challenges. Whether those challenges are on the soccer field, in the form of an unsatisfactory lunch, or a 24-hour travel schedule, the team has learned that staying positive is the key to overcoming difficulties. Simply put, these World Games were not organized well. But the team's success came largely from the guys' ability to look past daily nuisances and make the best of the situation. Eunice Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics, always emphasized that the Games were not the end goal of participation. Rather, athletes needed to apply what learned from competition in their daily lives. In the end, the challenges at these games have prepared the guys to do just that, by presenting them with difficulties beyond the field of play. Whether at school, at work, or in daily interaction with other people, the team now knows that keeping positive will reduce frustration and bring out their best...and we know that their best is golden.

Congratulations to the team, and here's to a golden future!

It was a long road, but the journey was worthwhile in every way.

1 comment:

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