Directly across the street from the Fargodome stands the Dacotah Field Bubble, where it and three NDSU Sports Management students played host to Special Olympic athletes on Nov. 21.
After receiving an assignment focused on creating and hosting a sports event, many students in Brock Bormann’s Sport Management HNES 224 class conjured ideas such as small tournaments and skills competitions.
One group made the decision to contact Jordan Novacek, the president of NDSU’s Special Olympics in the hopes of bringing NDSU football players and Special Olympic athletes together.
Easton Stick, the starting redshirt freshman quarterback, Daniel Mattson and Kendra Plaschko promoted the event, speaking at Special Olympic meetings and reaching out to the NDSU community via NDSU Special Olympic & North Dakota-Cass County’s Facebook pages
“We wanted to create an event where two groups of athletes who don’t always get the chance to come together could share their love of football and NDSU,” said Plaschko.
More than 30 Special Olympic athletes attended the event, as well as 10 Bison football players. The athletes participated in running drills, practicing snaps, kicking field goals and even breaking into small scrimmage groups.
“Throughout the event we rotated the kids and players so everyone was able to try everything and get to know more people,” Plaschko said. “It was amazing to see the connections that were made between these two groups of athletes in such a short time.”
Special Olympic athletes were teamed up with NDSU football players before they scrimmaged. As the day went on, athletes chatted with their favorite Bison football players, having posters signed and taking pictures.
“The students decided to approach the assignment with the idea that it is an opportunity for a cause-related event,” said Bormann. “That within itself has strong potential for learning that goes beyond event management related concepts.”
Going the extra steps, these NDSU students really seemed to take pride in the event, delivering a fun and open environment to the Special Olympic athletes.
“It felt really good to see the participants use teamwork to compete and have so much fun doing it,” Mattson said. “I think that everyone involved enjoyed it, including the volunteers and Bison Football players.”
With this togetherness, an event spurred from a class assignment turned into a touching and warming exemplification of the way that a passion for athletics is much more than just that.
“There was so much Bison pride in that room, almost every kid was wearing either a NDSU football jersey or some form of NDSU apparel,” Plaschko said.