On April 2, 19 Special Olympic athletes and roughly 70 student participants gathered at the McGill Currie Gymnasium for the motionball Marathon of Sport. The day included various competitions, like floor hockey, dodgeball, soccer, a relay race, and benchball, as well as a pizza lunch, poster-making competition, raffle, and an awards ceremony.
motionball is a nonprofit organization that raises funds and awareness for the Special Olympics Canada foundation. This year, McGill’s motionball chapter raised $7,365 in two months, with the top team raising $1,779.
The event was organized by a large team of McGill students including motionball co-directors, Avery Alexander, Alyssa Barbuto, and Chrissy Colizza. Ten teams with different-coloured t-shirts hosted a mix of Special Olympic athletes and McGill students, with representatives from several varsity teams including both men’s and women’s hockey, men’s rugby, baseball, and lacrosse, and women’s volleyball and soccer. Among other student groups in attendance were a team representing the Faculty of Education, a fraternity, and even some friend groups.
“I think getting involved allows for the gap to be bridged together between the McGill community and Special Olympic athletes,” Alexander told The McGill Tribune. “And we just want to create a more inclusive sport environment for everybody at McGill and Montreal.”
After putting the committee together only two months ago, the preparation for Sunday’s event was hectic.
“Given that we did this event in record time, it was pretty intense. But it all turned out wonderfully. We had a great turnout,” Barbuto told the Tribune.
Alexander added, “A lot of the parents have been coming up, just telling us how much they appreciate this, how much their kids are having fun.”
Many of the Special Olympic athletes have been participating in motionball’s Marathon of Sport for years. Peter Yong, a member of the green team, has been attending since 2015.
When asked what his favourite part of the Marathon of Sport was, Yong had no doubt:
Benchball involves tossing balls to your teammates who are lined up on the other side of the gym behind a bench. If you successfully complete a pass without being blocked by the other team, you join your teammates, with the ultimate goal of having the entire team behind the bench.
Yong also enjoys meeting the other athletes and playing with his team. Outside of the Special Olympics, he plays soccer in Montreal.
“[I play on the] West Island at the Lakeshore, ” Yong told the Tribune.
Another athlete, Michael Kucyznski, is also a long-time motionball participant. His passion for sports and love for meeting new friends keeps him involved with the Special Olympics.
“[I have been coming] for a couple of years, I think since 2018 but I am not too sure,” Kucyznski said. “I like everything [about motionball]. Sports [are] my number one thing.”
Kucyznski is a true sports fanatic who enjoys watching hockey and baseball and playing floor hockey and softball.
Hakeem Walker Bruce, a five-time motionball-er, was ecstatic to be back at the Marathon of Sport. When asked about his favourite event, Walker Bruce went with a more general answer:
“motionball. Just everything included.”
Outside of motionball, however, Walker Bruce enjoys soccer and basketball, and—evidenced by the moves he busted out later that day—dancing.
Walker Bruce wrapped up his interview with a hug (a practice varsity teams should strongly consider adopting).
The day finished with a dance party-turned-battle, where all participants ended up in a conga line, before meeting at the centre of the gym for awards.
The motionball Marathon of Sport program serves as a crucial bridge between McGill and the Montreal community. It gives Special Olympians a much-deserved opportunity to play the sports they love and meet new people in a relaxed environment dedicated to community building—something we could all use a little more of in our lives.