Smiles, laughter and pure joy filled Sioux City’s Tyson Events Center on Dec. 2. The day before competition for the 2013 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Volleyball National Championships, Vanguard University’s lady Lions joined with the NAIA and other tournament teams to host a Special Olympics volleyball clinic for students in the area.
Whether it was coaching volleyball skills, having a dance party or doing a conga line around the entire gym, the team tried to make every student feel welcome and enjoy their experience. Players started with teaching how to pass, set and hit. Based on the students’ interest and ability, some players broke into smaller groups and continued to work on the basic skills while others focused on individual students.
With interest waning and some students lacking the physical ability to really participate, the team busted out their powerful mini-speakers and created a dance circle to try to incorporate the students who had been standing or sitting on the side. It was a hit. After impressive dancing from players and students, a conga line was formed that grew as players and students circled the arena.
Looking back on the event, junior defensive specialist Ashli Bellinger said: “It was just awesome to see their faces light up.” The chance to work with the students held special significance for Bellinger because she plans on working with special needs individuals through counseling and therapy in the future, she said.
Unable to make it to the playoffs, the Lions volleyball team reached the end of their long and successful season on Dec. 5. To learn more about the team and their performance at the tournament, click here.