Scarlet Hawk Athletics Hosts Annual Special Olympics Basketball Tourney

CHICAGO—From January 22–24, Keating Sports Center was packed with some familiar faces. Illinois Tech Athletics and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee organized and hosted a basketball tournament for Special Olympics Chicago High School Basketball, welcoming 26 different Chicago-area schools and delegations with 366 total participants.

“The opportunity to work with the Special Olympics is such a fulfilling and positive experience,” said Erik Scanlan, the SAAC’s moderator and head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Illinois Tech. “I am very grateful to be a part of this event and to work for a department that promotes this type of service and energy within our community.”

This year, over 50 student-athletes representing all of Illinois Tech’s varsity athletic teams volunteered at the event, the highest total in the event’s history. The participants in the event were not the only ones who enjoyed themselves, as the many of those student-athletes who volunteered see the event as one of the highlights of this academic year.

“The Special Olympics Basketball Tournament is always a very fulfilling event,” said Olivia Kochanek, the SAAC’s Events & Projects Committee Head. “This year, I was helping at the scorer’s table, cheering on the athletes and giving high fives to those coming off the court. To be able to witness their excitement and sense of accomplishment made me so happy and so grateful to be a part of the week. Special Olympics is a great event and I’m so glad Illinois Tech hosts it!”

This year’s success surely has both Special Olympics Chicago and Illinois Tech Athletics excited about the future of the tournament in the Keating Sports Center.

“I am absolutely astounded at how terrific the entire team is at Illinois Tech,” said Dani Chitwood, Assistant Director at Special Olympics Illinois. “From working with Usha Gilmore in the fall to secure the facility, to the excellent customer service that she, Erik Scanlan, Olivia Kochanek, and the entire athletic squad provides us, it has become a no-brainer to request this facility to host year after year. The athletes of Special Olympics Chicago are so excited to showcase their talent at Illinois Tech and love the excitement and respect the volunteers show towards them. Illinois Tech has truly become a part of the Special Olympics family.”

“Events like this strengthen our community, our friends, and our department as well,” said Scanlan. “I look forward to continuing our work with the Special Olympics for years to come.”