From Buddy to Buddy

New Sports Buddies Club at CHS
Monday, November 2nd, 2015

sports buddies
I was waiting at cougar field on a cold Sunday morning not sure of what to expect. I had never been in any organization or club like Sports Buddies before. Chatham Sports Buddies is a club at our School where we help autistic kids play sports and train to eventually participate in a run at the end of the school year. I also had never dealt with an autistic child before… Could I really help or even make a difference?

Each high schooler was paired with one child to warm up. I knew no matter who I would be assigned with, I would have to be patient and not push them to do anything.

I was assigned a child named Will- for security purposes a fake name will be used-  who was about nine years old, and I could tell he did not want to be here. He was stubborn and refused to run the lap. Patience. I slowly started asking him what he liked, how many siblings he had, what his family did, and tried to get his mind elsewhere so he could relax. He gave me delayed responses, but overall, he answered all my questions. Before he knew it, we were halfway around the track, and everybody else was already done. I asked him politely and in a subtle way if we could run the rest of the way, and he said yes. Progress!

We finished the lap around the track and started doing quick stations like jumping over small hurdles, throwing javelins, and his favorite, playing soccer. During soccer he told me about his favorite team and we talked about who we thought were the best players, which of course we agreed was Neymar Jr.

At the end we were told that the kids would be doing a relay throughout the track and once a child passed a meter line, they would high five the next child and so on.

Will immediately told me that he was going to lose in the most pessimistic way I could imagine. He growled as if he had already lost. I tried my best to make eye contact with him and then interrupted him to tell him that I believed in him and he had to believe in himself too. He did not know what the outcome of this race would be and starting off pessimistically would get him nowhere. He seemed to listen to half of what I said.

The race started with a cheerful “Go!” from the administrators and Will went off. If he heard me, maybe he could gain some confidence or I was hoping even win. He ran and ran and started to make it to the front. Then he ended up in front of the others! He looked at me and said “I won,” shocked at himself.

Will may have not wanted to be there that day, but I was glad he came. He made my day when I realized that I made an impact. I thought about how such a small thing could make any person feel so enlightened, and how I wanted everyone to have the same opportunity.