CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- The Harvard softball team took to the local area this off-season to give back in its own special way through programs such as Special Olympics and Girls Group. Below are reflections from senior Erin Lockhart and sophomore Morgan Melito on their experiences volunteering.
Erin Lockhart '19- For the past three years, I have had the opportunity to work with the Harvard College Special Olympics Program. During the fall semester, we participate in flag football with a group of athletes from around the Boston area. Each week, we would begin practices with various football drills and end with a scrimmage – everyone's favorite part of practice. Before everyone leaves for the week, we would end practice by giving out awards to each athlete and coach – a small recognition for something they did well in practice. Two of my favorite have been "best hugger" and "best pizza getter", but some of the most prized awards include best quarterback, best runner, and MVP.
Every fall football season culminates with a State Tournament in November, and this year we had the opportunity to play at Gillette Stadium. The tournaments have been my favorite part of working with these Special Olympians. Not only do we get to see all of our hard work pay off, but we also get to see the smiling faces of every single athlete as they play on the biggest stage imaginable. Although we may have never gotten the blue ribbon, there is no doubt in my mind that we could win every single championship for touchdown celebrations. Getting to know these athletes and seeing their excitement to play with each other is easily the most rewarding part of my experience with Harvard Special Olympics, and something I will remember for years to come.
Morgan Melito- Volunteering at "Girl's Group" was a valuable experience for the entire Harvard softball team. I have a background with community service through National Charity League, but I had never worked with a group of young girls that inspired me as much as they did. Each week, the Harvard and MIT softball players team up to volunteer at "Girl's Group", which is a self-defense class for young girls in the Boston area. We were paired up with one of the girls during an exercise circuit, in which we became instant role models for the girls. They were not afraid to be-friend us, and their enthusiasm and excitement inspired me and my teammates to jump into participating in the class - they taught us how to be fearless. At the end of the class, we took a group photo, embracing with smiling faces. Within that moment, I could feel the sense of community that was bridged during the short hour session – a connection between us and the Boston community. That feeling in that moment will always hold a special place and my heart, fueling me to continue to give back to the community.
The Crimson returns to the field in Jacksonville, Fla. for the 2019 season, facing LIU-Brooklyn and Jacksonville University on Feb. 22.