Indianapolis Colts Long Snapper Justin Snow stepped off the playing field and onto the practice field yesterday evening, but it wasn't to prepare for this week's coming game.
Snow hosted the sixth annual Special Olympics Football Clinic on Monday, October 6th, 2008. Fourteen teams from seven counties across the state of Indiana arrived at the Colts practice facility for an evening of fun and new experiences.
This year over 120 Special Olympics athletes attended the event where they pass, kick, and catch the football with their favorite Colts players. The clinic offers the athletes a fun and safe environment to learn more about the game of football and show off their skills.
"We have a beautiful night to sweat and enjoy ourselves," Snow said as he greeted the crowd at the beginning of the evening. A resounding cheer came from the anxious audience.
"I see a lot of familiar faces and some new ones. I want to thank you for coming out."
Everyone was excited to get started with the six stations set up around the Colts indoor practice facility.
"My main focus of the evening is to enjoy yourselves and to get to know some of my teammates," Snow added.
On hand to help throughout the evening were LB Jordan Senn, WR Pierre Garcon, DB Brandon Sumrall, P Hunter Smith, RB Justin Forsett, OG Mike Pollack, C Steve Justice, DB Matt Giordano, DB Jamie Silva, and OG Jamey Richard.
After the opening the remarks the athletes split up to head towards the different sections lead by the Colts players. Some, like the station manned by Justin Forsett were focused on running skills. The athletes wove their way through the path and dove to catch a pass.
Another station was led by Colts punter, Hunter Smith. He cheered on the athletes as they attempted to make kicks through the goalposts – and high-fived those who succeeded.
Several, like the drill Snow helped run focused on catching while others had the athletes practice their throwing skills.
Regardless of the drill, Colts player and athlete alike had a great time enjoying the spirited atmosphere of the clinic. When it was time to switch stations players happily signed autographs and took pictures with the athletes before starting with the next group.
During the evening, the Colts cheerleaders taught the Special Olympics cheerleaders two chants. At the end of the clinic, one everyone had a shot at the different stations, they performed both for the group.
After the final performance the championship game was played. Two members from each team passed the football down the field. The first team to reach the end zone won.
A wonderful evening was had by athletes and Colts players alike with everyone enjoying the spirited atmosphere of the clinic. In the end the Special Olympic athletes walked away with a few signed items from Colts players and cheerleaders along with photos and big smiles.
These athletes hold a special place in the heart of Snow whose own brother, who passed away in 1998, was a Special Olympics athlete. Justin Snow now hosts Special Olympics camps locally and in his hometown of Abilene, Texas.
Indiana is the only state that offers flag football in which Special Olympians can participate. For more information on how to get involved in Special Olympics, visit www.specialolympicsindiana.org.