Taylor University is kicking off the 2023 spring semester by hosting one of the biggest sporting events in Grant County. Take it to the Hoop is a basketball tournament where Special Olympics athletes from counties across Indiana take part in friendly competition.
Take it to the Hoop will take place on Saturday, February 4, in the Kesler Student Activities Center from 8 am to 6 pm. The public is welcome to attend and admission is free.
The tournament includes both a team and individual skills division competing in an unique double elimination format. Currently, there are 29 teams playing 3 on 3, 24 teams playing 5 on 5, and 55 athletes in the individual skills division.
Fulfilling the Taylor Mission
Taylor has hosted Take it to the Hoop for many years, where the campus offers plenty of basketball courts, welcoming volunteers, and lively fans, all in an effort to share in the joy that the Special Olympics brings.
Through this partnership, Taylor has student ambassadors on campus that are involved with the Grant County Special Olympics Management Team. This year, Special Olympic Directors Mallory Robertson ‘23 and Catie Robbins ‘24 have been working hard to recruit volunteers, coordinate with teams, and organize logistics to make this event possible.
“It’s competitive and it’s exciting,” said Robertson, an Elementary Education major with a concentration in Special Education. “There is no one sitting on the sidelines feeling like they are not good enough to play.”
Special Olympics is 100% managed by volunteers, who fill a variety of roles including scorekeepers, referees, time keepers, runners, and team hosts. Team hosts partner with guest teams in order to make them feel welcomed and encouraged throughout the course of the tournament.
“Take it to the Hoop would not be possible without the support from Taylor volunteers,” said Robertson. “I want to recognize Taylor’s amazing football team and coaches for their overwhelming support. The whole team will be there to help host our guest athletes!”
Bouncing Back from Covid-19
This year, Take it to the Hoop has a new energy. The Special Olympics were suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic for the health and safety of their athletes. Currently, Grant County is working on re-registering all 150 of their athletes. With 98 athletes officially registered, they have made significant headway in Take it to the Hoop making a major comeback.
Robertson said that although everyone felt the effects of the pandemic, certain groups of people were more isolated than others, including the athletes.
“This year, we’re seeing a glimpse at what life was like before all the hurt and confusion,” said Robbins, an Exercise Science major. “It’s a celebration not only of the sport, but getting to come together and seeing one another like in years prior.”
Special Olympics in Grant County, Indiana
Founded in 1997, Grant County Special Olympics is a fully accredited county program of Special Olympics Indiana. They fully rely on volunteer participation and financial support within the community, making Grant County Special Olympics something truly special.
Special Olympics exists to provide year-round athletic training/competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. They offer year-round activities, practices, competition, and games in a variety of Olympics-style sports including aquatics, basketball, bocce, bowling, cheerleading, corn toss, distance walk, flag football, golf, horseshoes, and softball.
Special Olympics believes that competitive sports provides the opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship.
“It is such a cool celebration of how far we have come with disability rights,” Robertson said. “In a way, it is a glimpse of heaven for me and how the world should be.”
Over 100 Taylor staff, faculty, students, and athletes have signed up to volunteer at Take it to the Hoop, but more are always needed. Sign up here to be a part of making one of the largest basketball tournaments in Indiana possible.
Want to learn more about how Taylor equips student-leaders like Robertson and Robbins to minister Christ’s redemptive love, grace, and truth to a world in need? Register for a campus visit to see our vibrant community in action.