Lily Catrone, senior marketing major and one of two co-directors of Special Games, spoke with Grace McCauley, assistant managing editor, about her experience getting involved with the student-run organization and how it has impacted her.
Grace McCauley (GM): What are Special Games?
Lily Catrone (LC): Special Games is only two weekends long, it’s all non-competitive games, which I think is what makes us so special. It’s something that the athletes look forward to every year. They have certain students and coaches who they’re excited to see, they bring pictures back [from previous years], they all have their activities that they want to play, they all love the DJ who comes and the balloons … [I would explain it as] two weekends of non-competitive fun for people of varying abilities.
G.M.: How did you get involved in Special Games?
LC: I worked for Leslie, who is the Special Games moderator … so I just worked for her in [the Center for Service and Action] my freshman year and that’s how I knew about Special Games. I think because I worked there I got an email for their application to join the committee, which has 12 people on it and then Leslie our moderator. I started as an events and equipment coordinator, did that for two years and then this past year became one of the co-directors.
G.M.: What does Special Games mean to you?
L.C.: I love it because in middle school and high school, I was a TA for the special needs classes, so it’s something that I’m really passionate about it. It’s not a career that I want to pursue, but it’s my hobby and my passion and something that makes me feel super fulfilled on the side of academics and my career.
G.M.: What memorable experience or experiences have you had at Special Games?
L.C.: There’s so many … Just really bonding with the committee. We get there at 5:30 [a.m.], 4:30 [a.m.] to start setting up and I feel like that’s definitely where we all come together and problem solve and that just feels like where we all get really close … There’s so many [memorable experiences] involving the athletes. There’s one boy who comes back every year and he will not leave the basketball court. I think last year he actually got injured because he [was] just doing basketball for four hours.
G.M.: Who are some of the other people who make Special Games happen?
L.C.: I feel like we bring a really diverse group to the table. We’re all involved in other things … We’re all tied to this cause from different ways and are able to bring our different perspectives through that.
G.M.: Is there anyone in your life that inspired you?
L.C.: I volunteered [at] Hoof Prints on the Heart, which is therapeutic horseback riding for special needs kids and veterans with PTSD ... I was passionate about [the cause] through that but I feel like I never really understood the education training behind how you act with people of varying abilities … So, I learned that a little bit more through being a TA in the special education class. It’s great to see the athletes every year and it keeps me coming back.
G.M.: How can LMU students get involved?
L.C.: We have a sign-up link in our Instagram bio and also on the LMU Special Games Facebook page. We definitely encourage everyone to either sign up to volunteer or coach. If you’re a volunteer you’re there more as a floater facilitating the mood of the environment, keeping the energy going, making sure the games are running smoothly and all the ground is covered. Being a coach is this super rewarding experience because you’re paired with an athlete who you’re with for the rest of the day and you are their person and you get to experience the whole day with them. We really encourage everyone to do that … I feel like it brings LMU students together in a different way than Greek life does or ASLMU does, it’s kind of like everyone has that passion or that desire in wanting to explore helping people with special needs.
Special Games practice day is March 21 and the big day is March 28 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.