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Haven Volleyball collaborates with Special Olympics Delco in special event, game

Volleyball hosted Special Olympics Delco for joint practice and games. 
Haven+and+Special+Olympics+coaches+address+the+athletes+before+they+begin+their+shared+practice.
Kelly Montague ’25
Haven and Special Olympics coaches address the athletes before they begin their shared practice.

On September 18, 2023, the Strath Haven Volleyball Team hosted Special Olympics Delco, an organization dedicated to bringing sports to children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, for a joint game and practice. 

Special Olympics Delco, or SOPA Delco, arrived after the Haven Volleyball Team played against Conestoga. The varsity team won in three sets, while JV lost in three sets. For those unfamiliar with the rules of Central Athletic League volleyball, varsity plays a best-of-five format while the JV team plays a best-of-three. 

Coach Mary Kirschner met the Delco Special Olympics coach last year when she refereed one of their games.

“I said [to the coach], ‘Wouldn’t it be very cool if we could play each other?,’” she said. “And she said they don’t have a lot of access to gyms and have to use them when other schools aren’t using them, and she said they had a big competition coming up on October 1. So this would be the perfect timing for them to play us, so they get extra practice.” 

The event consisted of joint practice with serving and receiving before both the SOPA Delco players and the Strath Haven players split up into teams to play against one another. There were teams of six being split almost evenly, usually with three or four players from both Special Olympics Delco and Strath Haven. 

SOPA competitions use different rules than normal volleyball in order to make the game fairer for its players. 

“In play, each team serves three balls, and then the serve automatically goes to the other team, whether you won those points or not. To make it fair, and make sure everybody has a chance to serve and play,” Kirschner said. 

When the Special Olympics Delco and Strath Haven were split into teams for the games portion of the evening, they used the SOPA rules.

“With the way they play, you can only serve it a few times, you rotate a lot more, and you really get more opportunities to play different positions,” freshman Cece Lindsay said.

Overall, many participants had a positive experience at the event. 

“It felt really good to see so many people, of all different ages, playing the same sport I do,” freshman Ruth Snediker said.

“I think both teams win in this situation,” Kirschner said. “The Strath Haven players get to see another side of volleyball and get to support their fellow athletes, and the Special Olympics players can benefit from having more practice with people who have been playing volleyball for a long time, so you’d think it’s a win-win for both teams.” 

Haven Volleyball’s next home game is on October 2 against Haverford.

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About the Contributor
Clark Kerkstra ‘27
Clark Kerkstra is a freshman writing for the Panther Press. In his free time, he likes to compete in Cross Country and Track and play chess.
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