Cornell teams with Special Olympics Iowa to host Unified Sports Day

By Thao Nguyen ’15

On Nov. 3, 103 Cornell students joined 85 athletes from Special Olympic Iowa (SOIA) for a memorable experience at Cornell’s sixth annual Unified Sports Day in the Small Multi-Sport Center. Throughout the day, 18 teams composed of Cornell students and SOIA athletes participated in 10 activities, such as floor hockey, volleyball and bowling.


    The day’s highlight was a basketball game between Cornell students and SOIA athletes. After 20 minutes dominating the court, the SOIA team won, with a great cheer from everyone.

    “I had good conversations with many people,” said Naomi Saito ’15. “One of them was Kaylea—although she couldn’t talk, I knew that she had fun because she laughed when I told her jokes. And Cameron: he loved talking to me about basketball and how much fun he had at school. Overall, good conversations and good food.”

    Unified Sport Day was a day of awareness. Cornell students learned more about people with physical and mental disabilities, and SOIA athletes got to enjoy a day of socializing with college students while learning new sports.

    “It’s a chance to interact with people who are so unlike you, and you have to adapt and learn how to deal with different things you experience,” said Allison Rott ’15, a member of the steering committee for the event.

    “It’s not about competition,” added Jill Hopper, Assistant Director of Resident Life “It’s about getting to know people, and build friendship in the community.”

    “What I learned is that no matter who you are, you know how to have fun,” Saito said.