Delle Donne’s Night at Special Olympics

On Tuesday night, Elena Delle Donne paid a visit to the Special Olympics athletes at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill. Delle Donne has a connection to the Special Olympics, growing up with her sister Lizzie who has special needs. Through her experiences, Delle Donne has seen the wonderful benefits sport brings to the athletes of Special Olympics and was thrilled to be a part of the New Trier team for the night.

She entered the gym and was greeted by several groups of athletes, many of which were in awe of her 6’5 stature. To kick off practice, the athletes gathered together in the center of the gymnasium to welcome Delle Donne as a group. They also presented her with a New Trier High School Special Olympics “Coach” t-shirt to become an official guest coach for the night.

Then practice began. During warm ups, a 6’4 boy named Michael walked up to Delle Donne. After introducing himself, he challenged her to a game of one-on-one. He drove in for a short jumper which kissed off the glass for one point. Delle Donne got down in her best defensive stance to keep herself in the game but another jumper gave Michael the win, 2-0.

After explaining to Michael that she was going to be a “good sport” about the loss, the athletes split up into several groups. Each group found a spot around the gym to practice different skills. Delle Donne also made her way around to each group where she practiced dribbling, shooting and passing skills alongside the young athletes.

After their on-court practice was finished, the group gathered around the center of the gym once again, this time in a huddle. They explained to Delle Donne that after every practice they do a cheer. They welcomed Delle Donne and Sky Guy into the huddle, put their hands into the center of the group and chanted, “Thank you, Elena!” as they lifted and waved their hands in the air.

The night concluded with photos and autographs for the athletes. Many of the excited young hoopers even got Delle Donne’s signature on their Special Olympics athlete t-shirt, which they will wear all year long with pride. The athletes weren’t the only people leaving the gym with a big smile on their face. Delle Donne was beaming, happy to have been able to share her talents and learn from a great group that it’s important to always smile and have fun.