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Help the Bridgewater College golf teams help the Special Olympics

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Last month, the Bridgewater College men’s and women’s golf teams partnered with Special Olympics for a golf outing at Lakeview Golf Course. That partnership was selected by the NCAA to be one of the featured stories in November’s Special Olympics Spotlight at NCAA.org.

bc spec olympics golfThe NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll is a story-telling initiative located on ncaa.org/D3SpecialOlympics.  It features three new stories per month – each highlighting a Division III and Special Olympics joint activity or event.

The story with the highest number of votes on Monday, Nov. 25 is the winner. The poll will close at 5 p.m. ET. The winning institution or conference will be given $500 to use for its next Special Olympics event.

On an off weekend for both programs, the Bridgewater Eagles men’s and women’s golf teams took part in a special event at Lakeview Golf Course in Harrisonburg, Va.

The Eagles supported competitors from around the state at the annual Special Olympics Golf Tournament held on Saturday, October 5. Typically, the Eagles would be driving and putting from the Lakeview greens in preparation for another tournament, but over the weekend a dozen Bridgewater players accompanied the Special Olympics competitors during their nine-hole outing, acting as caddies, scorekeepers, fans, and friends.

The Special Olympic golfers represented a wide range of ages, as well as a wide range of skill levels as they competed in an alternate-shot format with their partners.

“Helping the players out helped me to see how much fun they make the game of golf. They allowed me to realize it really is just a game and is meant to be enjoyed, said sophomore men’s golfer Elijah Tackett. “It’s always nice to see the smile that you put on someone’s face. It makes me want to continue helping out with that group every year.”

Now in its fourth year, the tournament is an annual event organized by Area Four of the Special Olympics of Virginia, which encompasses Harrisonburg and the greater Harrisonburg area. Each year the event is hosted by Lakeview’s Director of Instruction, John Rogers, who is also the head women’s golf at Bridgewater.

Aside from organizing the event and his work in the golf community, Rogers he has been the playing partner of a local Olympian, Ian Frazier, for seven years.

“This was a banner year for our golf tournament,” said Rogers. “We had the best turnout of players we’ve ever had, and the addition of volunteers from the Bridgewater teams made it a great day. It was inspiring to see the college athletes interact with the Special Olympic athletes. Even after the tournament everyone was hanging out at the driving range and sharing a meal in the clubhouse. That’s what it’s all about, developing relationships between two great groups of people.”

Bridgewater College’s work with Special Olympics also coincides with Division III’s partnership with Special Olympics at the national level. The partnership was initiated in 2011 by the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) with the purpose of improving the lives of Special Olympics athletes through their involvement with Division III student-athletes and to foster a mutual learning experience between Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes.

“The Special Olympics event was another great experience. With my prior experience in Maine volunteering at the track and field part, I found it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s about the athletes, this is their day to show their abilities, and also have fun while doing it,” said freshman men’s golfer Mark Corella. “When seeing their smile, it makes me personally feel honored and grateful for what we have. Often times we take these things for granted.”

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