Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post from Jordan Schubert. Jordan has been competing in Special Olympics for 9 years. He has also been part of Special Olympics Project UNIFY for 4 years, and is currently working as a communications intern with Project UNIFY.
I used to always be harsh on Brett Favre for constantly changing his mind on whether he wanted to come back or not for three years. Now I understand why he did what he did. Only difference between me and him is that I actually stuck with my plan of leaving because I thought I was truly ready to move on from Special Olympics, specifically in basketball. When I looked on Facebook and saw pictures of my former teammates playing that made me miss it a little but it never bothered me too much.
What really made me miss competing was when I went to the University of Delaware to film a video for the National YAC at the SO Delaware state basketball tournament. This was the first time I visited a Special Olympics state event that I was not competing in. While I was filming, getting great shots of opening ceremonies and the action on the court, I asked myself, “Why am I just standing here with a camera mounted on a tri-pod when I could be out playing?” After finishing my freshman year of college, I made a full effort on coming back.
While I finished the first semester of my sophomore year, I found a team in Avondale, which was not far from my house or the West Chester University campus, but it was not around the block either. Still, I heard of all the success the Blue Streaks have had over the years, and I joined them this past January. Throughout the year, we competed in many tournaments throughout the state. However, we lost two tough games at the Eastern Spring Sectional in May to qualify us to go to Summer Games at Penn State. We were entered into a lottery to claim one of the final four spots to go to Penn State. After I got home, I got an e-mail from my coach saying we got the final wild card spot. After winning the Area M Spring Classic a week later, I faced another dilemma.
I applied for an internship with Project UNIFY and the first week of the internship was the week of Summer Games. However, it all worked out in the end and got to head home that Wednesday night and go to Penn State early Thursday morning. On Thursday, we had prelims to place us into a division. We were placed in the second to last division, but that didn’t mean it would be easy.
That evening, opening ceremonies took place at Penn State’s baseball stadium. Despite the pouring rain, it was still terrific. I also ran into someone I met at World Games in Athens, one of SO PA’s greatest icons and global ambassadors, Loretta Claiborne.
The next day was tough as we lost on a last second three to a team from Montgomery County. The next game was easier as we beat a team from Lancaster. The next morning however, we lost to a team from Harrisburg, which was the only team that beat us at the Area M Classic. That took us out of a chance to compete in the gold medal game. Still, it was a great effort as we beat Lancaster again to take the bronze.
I used to think that anything not gold was considered a failure. Now that I had a year to reflect why I really missed the game so much, and came back, I was just happy to be there.
Back when I competed in basketball in Illinois, the state basketball tournament was a separate event. In Pennsylvania, it was an amazing to see all Pennsylvania’s best athletes come together to compete in many different sports.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’m thinking about for next year, unlike Mr. Favre, I’m usually pretty good at making my decisions pretty quickly. And to all the members of the division 7 champion Area M Lakers, I’ll let you enjoy your moment, I’m just shaking off some flakes of rust and I’m looking forward to meeting up with you again at Penn State next year.