Special Olympians Get their 'Day with the Dukes'

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

HARRISONBURG -- Sixty area athletes from the Special Olympics worked out with the JMU football team on Saturday afternoon.

It was an afternoon of drills for John Walkup and his fellow athletes. Walkup calls it an experience he will never forget.

"I've been kicking field goals, I've been throwing balls, I've been kicking the ball," he said.

In all, 60 Special Olympians took the field with their JMU teammates.

"The main thing is just trying to get them to be a part of the team, getting them to do what we do," said JMU linebacker Stephon Robertson. "We took them through stretches today, which we had a lot of fun with - getting them excited about the day. And we're warming up arms, they threw some footballs around with us."

It was a special day for all of the athletes, working out together before JMU's game against St. Francis.

But do not be fooled by the laughter - it is not all fun and games.

"Yep, I get [the players] in shape," Walkup said, doing his part to make sure the Dukes are ready to play.

"They keep telling us, 'Make sure y'all win tonight,'" Robertson said.

When asked if JMU would win, Walkup said, "Oh yeah. They're going to knock them out."

But win or lose, Saturday already was a victory - long before kickoff - for the 60 athletes getting their day with the Dukes.

After working out with the football team, the Special Olympians also got to do drills with the basketball team and learn some cheers from JMU cheerleaders.

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