The McKendree University bass fishing team was joined by an honorary team member at its Sept. 27 Fall Invitational held on Carlyle Lake. Special Olympics athlete Gordon Adams joined the team as an honorary team member and assisted in many aspects of the tournament, including bagging and weighing the catches of the day, and drawing out names for the attendance prices.
“It was really fun having Gordon be a part of our first event of the year,” said head coach Jon Rinderer. “We look forward to getting him on the water to catch some fish as the season progresses. It’s fantastic that McKendree is taking the initiative to pair our team members with Special Olympics athletes. Doing so will be a rewarding experience for all involved.”
The bass fishing team was the first team this year to have an honorary team member at an event, but nine other teams will join them by providing a spot for Special Olympics athletes. Football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s volleyball, hockey, women’s lacrosse, and softball will all be joining the bass fishing team by extending the opportunity to other Special Olympics athletes.
Two athletes are chosen for each sport by Special Olympics staff, and are provided with McKendree clothing, behind-the-bench game experience, pre-game festivities such as VIP tailgating at football and walking to midfield for the coin toss. All athletes will sign letters of intent similar to a high school recruit who plans to join the team. Families and friends are invited to take part in the signing, and McKendree student athletes will surround the Special Olympics athletes as they sign on the dotted line. Athletes are invited out to practice and are expected to attend as many home contests as possible.
McKendree is a Division II university located in Lebanon. The university competes in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) and provides 27 collegiate sports for student athletes earning an education. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and facilities at McKendree play host for many Special Olympics events including Unified soccer, powerlifting, basketball and Spring Games time trials.
For more information on becoming an honorary team member in the future, please contact Justin Dunning.