August 15, 2022

Schoolcraft Shines During Unified Cup

Special olympics logo on a banner that reads: "Unified Cup, Detroit 2022 sponsored by Toyota"

Special Olympics soccer tournament included teams from 25 countries

Thanks to the hard work of several departments across campus, Schoolcraft College proved to be an outstanding host for the Special Olympics Unified Cup 2022 presented by Toyota, which welcomed soccer players from around the world.

The St. Joe’s Sports Dome and the College’s soccer field were the sites of men’s preliminary matches August 1-5. In addition, the “Healthy Athletes” program came to the TrinityElite Sports Performance Center (previously named the St. Joe’s Mercy Elite Sports Center) to provide hearing and vision screenings as well as strategies for maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and exercise, for the teams.

A total of 22 Special Olympics Unified teams totaling more than 300 players with and without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) represented by 25 countries competed. You can read a full recap of the tournament online. 

soccer players in action
The Special Olympics Unified Cup brought together teams with players with and without intellectual disabilities. Morocco defeated the United States 3-0 in this match played Thursday, August 4, in the St. Joe’s Sports Dome on the campus of Schoolcraft College. Photo credit: Brian Glass/Special Olympics.

The combination of excellent facilities and a strong, collaborative attitude and expertise among the College’s Recreation, Conference and Events, Facilities, Culinary Operations and other departments made Schoolcraft College a natural site for this global competition.

Here are reactions from some of the various departments:

Matthew Cooper, Recreation Facilities Manager

“The Recreation Services team has been working with key representatives from Special Olympics and their partners for approximately one year through many facility tours, conference calls, and virtual walkthroughs. This event took a great amount of coordination and planning to pull off, so to see it come to fruition has been very exciting. 

table booths offering health screenings
The three-day Healthy Athletes program held in the TrinityElite Sports Performance Center offered health screenings and more to the teams. 

“We welcomed staff, volunteers, spectators, and athletes from across the country and around the globe, and we were thrilled to be able to showcase our venues to that crowd. In total, 10 different men’s international teams played at the St. Joe’s Sports Dome, and the competition was intense! We’ve always felt that our facilities were top-notch, and I think that was proved (August 1-5).

“Personally, I enjoyed getting to know the people working behind the scenes as well as the athletes who were so excited to be here.”

Heather Moore, Director of Culinary Operations

Special Olympics was an awesome week for Culinary Operations. It was amazing to see everyone work together as a team to prepare and serve 1,750 wraps, 283 pounds of salad, 1,750 chips and 1,452 cookies! It was a great opportunity to internationally showcase Schoolcraft Culinary Operations. 

“We stayed with our value of fresh, high-quality food, and did not sacrifice that with any form of shortcuts, which is easy to try to justify with large volume. A special thanks to Chef Tom Clark for leading the kitchen to success! In addition to the large volume, we had the obstacle of Michigan August heat. 

“Thank you to everyone, especially Holly McDermott, who helped serve and keep our food at safe temperatures all week long. Be proud of the fact that you all have the power to rise above any situation and deliver the best results no matter the circumstances. Excellent work, and go Team Cul Ops!”

Kelly Wuorenma, Recreation Coordinator

“During the three-day Healthy Athletes program held in the TrinityElite Sports Performance Center, the energy from both the volunteers and athletes was incredible and infectious. This event accommodated every athlete from all 25 nations and allowed time for the athletes to visit each station. The stations provided were: Fun Fitness, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes, Pediatric Screening, Healthy Hearing and Special Smiles. Each station gave free exams and the necessary medical devices, such as glasses and hearing aids, and/or referrals. 

“During the second day, Miss America, Emma Broyles, stopped in to see all the wonderful things the volunteers were doing for the athletes. She toured every station, asked questions, took pictures with anyone who asked and was very appreciative for the work being done. 

Everything went smoothly, and I received several compliments on the facility. One of the representatives from Starkey, the Healthy Hearing station, said it was the best venue he’d ever been to and didn’t feel sore after being on his feet all day! They also loved the food from the Elite Market & Smoothie Bar and were grateful for the air conditioning when it was 90-plus degrees. Overall, everything went well, and we all learned so much from the Unified Cup.

“I also want to mention that our Facilities team was amazing. From helping to unload the heavy sound booths to keeping the fields and TrinityElite Sports Performance Center clean, they did a fantastic job!”

Lisa Meinzinger-Abraham, Account Manager, Conference and Event Services

“Outstanding! This is the word that comes to mind when looking back at the hospitality shown by Schoolcraft College and each department from beginning to end. Athletics happily hosted multiple guided tours for the Special Olympics International team, and Culinary Operations pulled off extraordinary large-scale (multiple) daily lunch deliveries with precision and grace. 

Matthew Cooper and Miss America, Emma Broyles
The Special Olympics Unified Cup drew several VIPs to campus, including Miss America, Emma Broyles, who is with Matthew Cooper, Recreation Facilities Manager.

“Shipping and Receiving went above and beyond for months ahead of time to deliver items to their POD as well as last-minute oversized items on site. They even offered to pick up a freezer from Home Depot! Facilities staff members were flexible and demonstrated their usual brand of hard work and timeliness. Media was on-point being tasked with providing clear sound on media-bare fields, while shielding expensive equipment from the elements. Chief Engstrom and Campus Police were ever-patient and helpful, as always. 

“Leading up to the event, Conference & Event Services tirelessly tweaked contract requirements, paying special attention not to leave out any details. This event required three separate detailed contracts totaling 55 pages, and countless hours spent on site to ensure all needs were defined and carried out according to the Special Olympics’ needs. 

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say this event went off without a hitch as there were some 800-pound bumps in the road (called sound booths). Fortunately, these challenges make us stronger as a team and make every event better than the next. It’s not often we get to be part of an event that wholeheartedly promotes inclusion and impacts individuals and communities all over the world. To see the smiles on the athletes’ faces and the cheers at the Unified Cup awards’ ceremony was truly worth every step.”

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