Nicole Wang takes over as Special Olympics coordinator


Sarah Booth

Junior Chris Williams and sophomore Sophia Malpocker hang out with their Special Olympics buddy.

On Feb. 22, hundreds of students from West High and across the St. Louis area converged on the main gym, clad in bright purple, green, yellow, red and salmon shirts. Over 400 West High volunteers worked at this year’s Special Olympics, with positions in Victory Village, as unified players, buddies and buddy captains.

The planning process for the entire day was undertaken by sophomore LoCo member and class president, Nicole Wang.  

“It was a lot of work, but we started planning in November and December, so it was really nice.  [The workload] evened it out, so it wasn’t that stressful. Maybe 40-50 hours were put into planning this in total. What helped me a lot was that I had a lot of materials that last year’s point person, Claire Webster, had leftover,” Wang said.

The days leading up to the event Wang trained the volunteers and kept the day on schedule for the visiting schools. She also made changes from the way the Olympics were run last year.

I think everyone had a lot of fun, it’s really good that the buddies can have fun along, and the high schoolers can have fun watching little kids’ faces light up.”

— Nicole Wang

“We decided that everyone would just get one training together, instead of splitting off into groups and learning who their teams were, for the buddies. I’m most proud of the fact that I could pull it all off, because I hate talking in front of people and the fact that I got that done with is really cool,” Wang said.

The opening ceremonies featured the running of the Olympic torch and speeches by several athletes. One of the participants in the opening ceremonies was senior Holt Priest, who worked the event as an announcer.

“I was in Victory Village [for the rest of the day], and I liked helping out the DJ. I danced a lot, and the athletes really enjoyed me dancing for them. I liked doing the chicken dance, the macarena, YMCA and Uptown Funk, and the athletes got really pumped up watching me,” Priest said.

Those assigned to be buddies and unified players were the most involved with the athletes, playing basketball and other skill related games with them, along with offering them support and encouragement throughout the day.

“I had the youngest kidsthe ones under age 8so instead of playing basketball we dribbled and shot at short baskets; at the end of the day my athlete got tired so he just sat on my lap and took a nap. I really enjoyed [the Olympics] because I like playing basketball, so I had a great time getting to know my buddy through teaching him the skills of basketball,” sophomore Mali Seigel said.

Many teachers and students cite the Olympics as one of the days they most look forward to all school year.

“I think everyone had a lot of fun, it’s really good that the buddies can have fun along, and the high schoolers can have fun watching little kids’ faces light up. It always makes people happy.” Wang said.