Marymount hosts Special Olympics Virginia basketball tournament

Marymount hosts Special Olympics Virginia basketball tournament


On March 24, Marymount University brought students, athletes and community members together for the Virginia Area 26 Special Olympics basketball tournament. The tournament featured eight Special Olympics teams from Arlington and Fairfax counties competing for the league title. 

For Dr. Linda McKenna Gulyn, Professor of Psychology in Marymount’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, it was a family affair. Her 23-year-old son Danny, an athlete with intellectual disabilities, played for the Arlington Panthers during the tournament, while Danny’s twin brother, Timothy, coached the Panthers. 

Dr. McKenna Gulyn said she enjoyed watching her sons work together on the team and was happy to see the number of Marymount students — including some of her Psychology students — who volunteered as commentators, aides and cheerleaders at the event. 

Marymount University student-athletes served as cheerleaders and volunteers during the event.

“Not only was I proud of my own sons, but of our Marymount students,” Dr. McKenna Gulyn said. “The young men who called the games were outstanding, just like pros. The professional play-by-play commentary made each athlete shine and the cheerleaders made it a great event, especially since most of the Special Olympics athletes are actually same-age peers. I loved seeing my Psychology students at their best outside of the classroom, too!”

Margaret White, Head Coach of Marymount’s Women’s Basketball team, emphasized how important this event is for Marymount athletes to learn about fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity in sports. 

“This is an important tradition for both the local community and Marymount. It brings together our Marymount athletes and Special Olympics athletes and their families for a day of fun, competition and friendship,” Coach White said. “Our athletes here at Marymount are fortunate to compete at the collegiate level and this provides them an opportunity to support their peers who are just as passionate about their sport.”

After Danny and the Arlington Panthers won the league title, Dr. McKenna Gulyn reflected on how well the Marymount community worked to create a dynamic and exciting event for the athletes, families and caregivers. 

“Marymount’s facilities, organization and abundant supply of enthusiastic Marymount athletes brought the energy and spirit of healthy competition to this big day,” Dr. McKenna Gulyn said. “Employees, students and sports lovers around campus all contributed to make this Special Olympics tournament an event to be proud of.”

Marymount hosts Special Olympics Virginia basketball tournament

This is Marymount’s 28th year hosting the Special Olympics Virginia basketball tournament, largely thanks to the dedication over the last 12 years by Marymount Men’s Basketball Head Coach Chris Rogers, who is also co-director of the Special Olympics at Marymount.

“It has been an honor for me to coordinate the event and help Marymount host the Special Olympians, their families and our local community,” Coach Rogers said. “It is a reminder of what is so great about sports. Competition and camaraderie are the best parts of being on a team. Being part of something bigger than yourself is one of the most important experiences our student-athletes can have.”

Dr. McKenna Gulyn said she is proud to be a part of a community that creates space for athletes with intellectual disabilities and teaches students to embrace diversity in all areas of life. 

“Athletics are for everyone, regardless of ability,” Dr. McKenna Gulyn said. “I believe sports matter, especially for individuals with intellectual disabilities, to have an identity that goes way beyond being a person with a disability.” 

The Area 26 league is run through Special Olympics Virginia, a nonprofit organization that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities develop physical fitness, learn team-building skills and experience a sense of community with others.