Response Magazine

SPU hosts Special Olympics gymnastics

This summer, Seattle Pacific hosted the gymnastics competitions for the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics USA Games, an event that provides sports training and athletic competition opportunities for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.

Thirty-eight gymnasts gathered at Royal Brougham Pavilion the first week of July to compete in uneven bars, floor exercise, balance beam, and vault. Other venues around Seattle hosted competitions for other sports, including basketball, bowling, golf, weightlifting, swimming, and volleyball.

Hosting the gymnastics tournaments was a way to broadcast the University’s mission of caring for and engaging with the city of Seattle, said Athletics Director Jackson Stava. “It gives all of the Seattle Pacific community a chance to show the broader community what is distinctive about our campus and our people.”

Special Olympics Gymnastics at SPU by Daniel Sheehan

Seattle Pacific’s assistant gymnastics coach, Sarah Jean Marshall, said the event was “a very tangible way for us to live out our mission and use our gifts and resources in a meaningful way.”

The gymnastics competitors performed in a packed and noisy gym as the audience cheered them on. Frannie Ronan, 8, was the youngest person competing in this year’s games. Elaine Walker, Team Washington gymnastics coach, said Frannie practices her routines regularly at the gym.

“Frannie’s a natural, and her enthusiasm means so much to the others,” Walker said.

Special Olympics Gymnastics at SPU by Daniel SheehanEmily Montgomery, 12, fell in love with gymnastics watching competitions on television. “It was really cool,” she recalled. Now, she likes gymnastics because it makes her feel confident.

“For us, it’s not about winning,” said Mia Crump, 13, who took home a first-place award in her level for vault and second place for the floor exercise. “It’s all about being your best and having fun when you’re competing. You just think about your teammates and the people cheering you on.”

This story originally appeared on page 10 of the autumn 2018 issue of Response with the headline, “SPU hosts Special Olympics gymnastics.” Photos by Daniel Sheehan. 

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