Eight Hamilton College athletes served as volunteer referees at a Special Olympics New York bocce ball tournament held at the Toccolana Club in Rome, N.Y., on Sept. 12. Hamilton Women’s Hockey and Softball joined the Baseball team for what has become an uplifting annual event for both Hamilton’s athletes and the Special Olympians they are there to support.

Hamilton athletes who participated were women's hockey players Mairead Carey ’18 and Emily Williams ’19;  Delaney Nicol ’19, Jodi Weiss ’19 from softball; and Danny Depaoli ’18, Brett Mele '17, Griffin Small ’17 and Kenny Collins ’17 from the baseball team.

Upon arriving for the event Hamilton athletes got a crash course on the rules of Bocce such as how to bowl, measure and score. But the lessons they learned observing the Special Olympians were much more meaningful.

“Sports have the ability to bring people together and this event is a perfect example of that,”  said baseball tri-captain Kenny Collins ’17, who was refereeing for his second year. “Refereeing the Special Olympics has been a great experience with a number of players returning. And we were happy to get a couple new teams involved this year.”

Being able to help in the community is in itself rewarding, but Hamilton athletes were able to take even more from the experience by observing the Special Olympians compete. “Every athlete has some type of obstacle they have overcome,” women’s hockey player Mairead Carey ’18 said. “It was a humbling experience to work with athletes who don't let any type of barrier stand in the way of their success.”

“The athletes provided us with an important reminder of the true value of sportsmanship and teamwork, which sometimes gets overshadowed in competition,” baseball catcher and two time referee Brett Mele’17 added.

This event was a special opportunity to see our Hamilton student athletes lend a hand in the community, while learning about sportsmanship, teamwork, and breaking down barriers.

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