Experiencing Winter Games – Mike Kelley
“As long as you’re having fun competing and giving your best, that’s all that matters.”
When you win a championship it’s considered a crowning achievement and you have a great outlook on your athletic career. On the other hand, there are times when you make the championship but you come up short. Overall, you look at how far you came based on the hard work and dedication you put in and no matter what the results are, you can feel proud of the experience. One example is the experience of competing in the Special Olympics Winter Games.
Every March, the Winter Games take place in basketball, floor hockey and bowling and see over a thousand athletes competing to earn a medal. Out of the thousands of athletes, there are some who have been competing for a long time while there are some who are in their first year of participating. Along with the experience, some athletes want to compete to earn the gold medal while some just compete for the love of the sport. Overall, competitions like Winter Games are all about having fun and enjoying the moments of playing at your very best.
I have been participating in Winter Games since 2005. When I won my first gold medal in the 2006 Winter Games, it felt like I was one of the best accomplishments I had as athlete, along with winning 4 gold medals in a row in bowling. Overall, I enjoyed how much fun I had playing alongside athletes all over the state and seeing how far I went to earn a medal.
As the years have passed since I got involved in Special Olympics, I found how integral the tournaments can be to all athletes. Similar to the Fall, Spring, and Summer tournaments, the goal of Winter Games is to just have fun and see how much experience you have. I have high hopes that athletes who compete in the future will have the best experience and know how much they have developed in their athletic experience. In the end, as long as you’re having fun competing and giving your best, that’s all that matters.
Mike Kelley is a 2014 graduate of Auburn High School in Auburn, Massachusetts and played on the Varsity football team for 3 seasons as the first special needs student to play on the team. He is now an assistant coach of the Auburn High School Unified Track & Field team. He competes in Special Olympics Massachusetts in the sports of bowling, swimming, basketball, flag football and softball and is a student at Worcester State University studying communications.