BGSU rallies to provide sports for special needs youth
BOWLING GREEN, O.—RallyCap Sports, a recreational sports program providing children and young adults with special needs the opportunity to participate in sports, is holding its kickoff event at the University from 2-4 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Perry Field House.
BGSU is serving as a prototype for the program, a partnership between alumnus Paul Hooker and business student Luke Sims, who are working together to roll out the program at universities across the nation.
The kickoff event is free for the entire community and will be an opportunity for participants, their families, and BGSU students, faculty and staff to rally together and celebrate a program that has the potential to impact communities throughout the country.
The idea to expand RallyCap Sports outside its home base in New Jersey (where, for the past 24 years, it was known as Challenged Youth Sports) came after Hooker sold his highly successful linen company, SFERRA, in 2013. He discussed expanding his nonprofit venture with the Ray Braun, dean of the College of Business at BGSU, last spring.
Braun saw a valuable opportunity for a business student to have a learning experience outside the classroom and approached Sims about teaming up with Hooker.
Sims and Hooker came up with the new name of RallyCap Sports for the expanding organization, taken from the term for when fans turn their hats inside out and backwards to spark a come-from-behind victory late in the game.
“RallyCap is a victory,” Sims said. “It’s a victory for the organization, the University, communities across the country and ultimately the participants who will be part of something unique and life changing.
“I have developed a passion for this population, and it has been great to work with Paul Hooker, Dean Ray Braun, my professors, and the athletics staff to make this happen,” he continued.
During the kickoff event, participants will be paired with a volunteer for one-on-one interaction playing a variety of sports. Sims has had an overwhelming response from people wanting to volunteer for the program, including community members, BGSU students, staff and intervention specialists.
After the kickoff, there will be a four-week soccer session where participants will not only play the game, they will also meet the BGSU soccer team, watch one of their matches and have the opportunity to play “under the lights” at Mickey Cochrane Soccer Stadium.
In the spring, RallyCap Sports will feature another session focusing on a different sport, along with fun activities for the participants. The kickoff event is free, but the subsequent league sessions will have a nominal fee.
While RallyCap Sports helps people with special needs participate in sports, its objective isn’t about earning sporting accolades but about participating and connecting with others.