State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Special Olympics Athletes Celebrate Victory and Friendship

by on June 06, 2014 4:00 PM

Alex Masters, a Special Olympics athlete of 20 years, stood on the basketball court in Penn State's White Building Friday afternoon with a look of intense concentration.

The ball he’d thrown moments before flew as if in slow motion through the air, before landing on the lip of the basket. With a swish and a thud, the ball fell through the net and hit the floor. Masters’ look of concentration erupted into a smile.

“We won! We won!” he called to his teammates and friends in the stands, running up and down the court, his fists held high in triumph.

Scenes like this could be found across Penn State and State College Friday, as the 45th Annual Special Olympics of Pennsylvania (SOPA) continued with a second day of competition. With events in everything from swimming and basketball to equestrian and bowling, the Special Olympics offered something for young and old athletes with a wide range of learning and intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics PA CEO Matthew Aaron says these games are all about empowering a group of individuals who are often marginalized for their disabilities.

“These athletes all too often are told no and that they can’t do things by society and their peers,” Aaron says. “The Special Olympics is an organization that says yes, they can.”

This empowerment was clear across State College Friday, as athletes from every county in Pennsylvania competed. Many Special Olympics athletes in town this weekend have been involved in with Special Olympics for decades, like Masters or tennis player Vince Malloy.

Though this is only Malloy’s third year at the State College summer games, he has competed in various Special Olympics events for the past 30 years. He's competed in the World Games twice (in equestrian events and cycling) and says its not winning medals that keeps him coming back. It’s his relationship with his teammates.

“When we compete in practice, we always try to push each other,” Malloy says.

Masters, who embraced his teammates after his victory lap around the basketball court, agrees.

“I enjoy the Olympics because I get to play with my teammates,” he says. “They really care about me, and they keep me motivated.”

Brooke Corby has been involved in the Special Olympics since 1988, competing in basketball, soccer and gymnastics. When she injured her knee several years ago, she feared she would no longer be able to compete in the games.

Told by her doctor that bowling would not twist or harm her knee, Corby bowled through physical therapy and competed in the games today.

Aaron says these scenes of victory, determination, and camaraderie are the true rewards of the Special Olympics.

“When you come to an event like this, you’ll see joy personified over and over,” he says.

Popular Stories:

VA says State College Clinic Meets Standards

Judge Schedules Trial Date in Corman-NCAA Lawsuit

Weekend to Bring Break From Summer Storms

First Friday Kicks Off Tonight in Downtown State College

Fencing Coach Sues Penn State for Wrongful Termination

It's X-Game Gold Again For State College Native Jamie Bestwick

Penn State Football: Uplifting Athletes Set For Fundraising Weekend

Penn State Football: Do the 2014 Nittany Lions Have an Identity?

David Taylor Named First Team Academic All-American

Penn State Football: Nittany Lions Footing $1.7 Million Bill To Host UMass And Akron

Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
Next Article
Penn State Football: Uplifting Athletes Set For Fundraising Weekend
June 06, 2014 2:00 PM
by Ben Jones
Penn State Football: Uplifting Athletes Set For Fundraising Weekend
Disclaimer: Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

order food online