This guest post is written by Caroline Potolicchio, a member of the Women’s Hockey Team at Colgate University. The team is involved with Autism Speaks U, an initiative of Autism Speaks that is designed to support college students, faculty and staff in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.
Whenever I tell friends and family that I have to be back to school before New Years I get gasps of disbelief and sympathetic comments. However, what my friends and family do not realize is that the few isolated weeks we have on campus are some of our favorite times as a team. Over the past two weeks my team had the pleasure of teaching kids with autism how to skate. The feedback that we received was overwhelmingly positive.
One parent wrote: “It isn't often that you meet people who make this world a better place. Well, I can tell you that the women's ice hockey team at Colgate is doing just that. I cannot even put into words how nice it is to see young women making lives better. Seeing my boys participate in something together is great. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough. Thank you for teaching them to skate. Thank you for showing them that, differences or not, they matter. Thank you for embracing them, playing with them and being great role models!!!”
However, what the parents don’t realize is how much these kids are making our days. We genuinely looked forward to seeing their children for each session. The pearly white smiles and shrieks of excitement that they portrayed as they made progress with their skating translated into us feeling a sense of pure bliss and happiness. These kids are so much fun to be around. They make us forget any worry that we may have had that day and remind us how much fun our competitive sport can be. They are our teachers and role models, because they persevere with a smile and big heart despite any obstacles that might be in their way. They keep us young, and we sincerely want to thank all of our skaters and their dedicated parents for participating.
I also want to thank senior, Jocelyn Simpson, for organizing the entire event with the generous help of Regina Conti. The time, commitment, and energy you put into the intensive learn to skate program was impeccable. Not only did you take the time to learn about each kid that would be participating, but you also took even more time to teach us about the child we would be skating with for the next five days. You are an amazing person and I am so proud of you for all that you have accomplished and I can’t wait to see your future successes post graduation.
As the semester gets underway on Monday, our Autism Awareness game is only 10 short days away. Come out and show your support for a big ECAC match up as we play Brown University in our new autism awareness jerseys. We thank everyone for their generous support over the past three years and we look forward to making this the best year yet!
Connect with Autism Speaks U via its website, Facebook and/or Twitter.