My trip to Orlando, Florida with my Field Hockey team for the Special Olympics Field Hockey Tournament is something I will always remember.
We first went to Disney World and then to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where the Special Olympics Tournament was held! There were 200 teams from around the nation there, and it was cool to see teams from different states.
At the complex, our Long Island Field Hockey Team opened up the very 1st Annual Special Olympics Field Hockey Tournament, which was for people with development disabilities to play the sport. We used one field, as the other field was used for the Girls USA Field Hockey Tournament.
The Long Island team broke into 2 teams in order to play our match: The Long Island Field Hockey Team (the gray team) versus the All Starz (the white team). The Long Island Girls Field Hockey Team volunteered to help in the game to help us have even more fun! When the two teams were split, the LIFH team included me, Michelle, Rebecca, and Paul. The All Starz team had Anthony, Elouise, Gia, and Adriana.
For this tournament, we played in 2 halves that were only 10 minutes each. At the beginning of the match, it was an intense start, and Michelle opened up the lead, allowing the LIFH team to take the early lead, 1-0. After this, Elouise tied it up for the All Starz, bringing it to 1-1.
Five minutes before halftime, Michelle passed me the ball, and I scored to help my team take back the lead 2-1. The All Starz took immediate action and tied up the match 2-2! Right before halftime, I thought I was going to score again, but the goalie made a great play to block my shot, so I went back to center field to play defense. Afterwards, Rebecca passed the ball to Michelle, and she scored another goal to make the lead 3-2 with LIHF winning at the end of the first half.
At halftime, everyone went on a water break, and then we huddled up to work as a team and continue to make history. During the second half of the match, Michelle got another goal to add to our lead. Then I made a quick-thinking pass, before I went out of bounds to help the LIFH team take a 4-2 lead against our opponents. I scored before I put myself in an offside position; which turned out to be super lucky later, as the ball rolled to me and I scored!
In the meantime, Paul and I did a phenomenal job with the defense for the LIFH team and stopped the All Starz from scoring 5 times. Overall, the defensive plays made by all of the Long Island field hockey players were outstanding during the tournament — so hopefully we can get ourselves promoted for the 2028 Paralympics!
Before the match was over, the LIFH team scored 3 more goals — which is a credit to the whole team, as they worked with great creativity and teamwork. Once the Tournament was about to draw to a close, Elouise helped the All Starz get closer with a buzzer beater goal! But even though they tried, the All Starz couldn’t find a way to score another goal.
So the LIFH team won, and it proved to be a fun tournament! We won 7-3 against the All Starz. It was a very exciting game, and we all made Special Olympics history.
I had 2 interviews after the tournament. I started off with Sally from USA Field Hockey, and then Valeri from Long Island Field Hockey. It was exciting getting to be interviewed!
This trip was a cool opportunity to introduce Field Hockey for the Special Olympics and show that people with disabilities can play the sport as well. We want Special Olympics Field Hockey to become an official sport for people with Development and Intellectual Disabilities, and hope that it will become a popular sport for the 2028 Summer Olympics and the Paralympics.
Written By: Scott Weisbrot
This blog post was written by a member of the eVero Outreach team. The Outreach program aims to teach individuals with disabilities marketable job skills, and enable them to find gainful employment. To learn more about eVero Outreach, click here.