by Leigha Pemberton, Assistant Director, Marketing & Partnerships
University of Central Oklahoma
The University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games celebrated 20 years of adaptive sport in June of this year. Co-founded in 2000 by Katrina Shaklee with the guidance of Denise Hutchins, the Endeavor Games was created to fill the need for competitive sports events for athletes with physical disabilities. Looking back over the last 20 years, seeing how far the UCO Endeavor Games has come and the opportunities we have been able to provide our athletes has been humbling.
Katrina and Denise are still highly involved. We have had amazing years where the event has gone off without a hitch. We have had years where we were left wondering if anyone would return the next. We are continually learning new things and trying to improve the UCO Endeavor Games experience.
One of the key things we have learned over 20 years is that good working relationships and good communication are vital to being successful. Be appreciative and recognize the time someone is taking out of their day to help you. Whether you are paying for a service or giving a free t-shirt to a volunteer, you need all the pieces to be in place for your event to be successful. Make sure when communicating with each person that you give them all the information they may need in a clear and concise manner.
Vision and the Power of Sport
Over the last year, we found ourselves revisiting years gone by and asking ourselves what kind of legacy we were leaving. We turned to our vision statement for the answer. The UCO Endeavor Games aspires to serve the needs of our athletes whether they participate for health, recreation, or dream of becoming a Paralympian.
· in the power of sport to change lives
· that finances shouldn’t be a deterrent to participating, and
· we are better and stronger as a team.
To create an event with lasting power, it is vital to stay focused on your mission and vision. Make sure you and your team understand the “why.” If you do, you’ll never stop trying to be better. Don’t just assume that athletes will return year after year. It is important to be out there every day letting new groups of people know about your event and reminding athletes who have come in the past why they should come back.
The legacy of the UCO Endeavor Games lies within the team. UCO has a team of people who believe in the importance of the job they are doing to put this event together each year. The team of athletes that participate believe in the UCO Endeavor Games to provide a fun and competitive event. The team of parents, families, friends, and volunteers believe in the athletes participating, and the entire team believes in each other.
The UCO Endeavor Games has a 20-year history of teamwork and dedication. Thousands of athletes, parents, families, friends, volunteers, and staff coming together for 20 years to believe in something bigger than any one individual. Our greatest lesson learned has been that we are better and stronger together.
When it comes to creating events with a lasting legacy, it is essential that you have a strong “team” around you who believe in what you are doing. Recognize that your team is more than just the immediate staff. It is made up of sport directors, clinic coordinators, volunteers, athletes, families, and friends. Each of these people are vital to the overall success of the event. Help them believe in you and your event to make the strongest team – and event – possible.