In January, McCutcheon Elementary School’s Special Olympics program participated in the Special Olympics Illinois Chicago/Area 3 North Junior and High School Basketball Skills Competition at DePaul University. Their team, coached by Erin Claxton, consists of 20 athletes between the ages of 8 and 13.
The McCutcheon Elementary Special Olympics program began in 2014 with Spring Games and since then they have expanded to include basketball, soccer and softball skills.
Claxton, who grew up playing basketball in school, loved the sport and found joy in teaching it to her athletes beginning last November. “We selected the skills competition because our athletes had little knowledge of the game,” Claxton explains.
The team practices weekly in their gym, and the week prior to their competition, they held a pep rally at the school to get the excitement going for their competition. The athletes tried on their uniforms and watched the movie “Space Jam” to get extra pumped.
“A few of our athletes asked to be called Michael Jordan that week,” Claxton recalls.
Through the Special Olympics program, the McCutcheon Elementary students have had the opportunity to try new things. Claxton has seen growth in their confidence and notes that they have incredible sportsmanship.
Claxton says she loves coaching because “it gives me a chance to teach valuable life lessons to our athletes.”
“They learn the sport, but more than that,” she said. “I’ve seen athletes blossom socially, build their self-esteem and learn good sportsmanship through Special Olympics. We are very grateful to have this program at our school!”
The McCutcheon Elementary Special Olympics team are currently training for a new sport. They will participate in softball skills this June in Chicago.
By Alexandra McMillin, Manager of Communications