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Special Olympics Athletes Play a Good, Clean Game in Unified Egg Bowl

Special Olympics Ole Miss team
The Ole Miss team lost this year’s Unified Egg Bowl but has qualified to compete in flag football at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle next summer.

Last week’s Egg Bowl was a chippy affair, complete with pregame brawls, crude celebration gestures, ejections and bird fingers pointing everywhere.
Wednesday night’s Unified Egg Bowl, which also pitted Ole Miss against Mississippi State for a year’s worth of bragging rights, was a good deal more convivial.
The fourth annual event featured Special Olympics Mississippi athletes in a hard-fought but entirely clean and amicable showdown at the Indoor Practice Facility in the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletic Performance Center on the Ole Miss campus.
Monica Daniels Special Olympics
Monica Daniels, executive director of Special Olympics Mississippi, poses with some Ole Miss athletes at Wednesday night’s Unified Egg Bowl in Oxford.

UM and MSU are both Special Olympics (SO) Colleges, which bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same teams.
And make no mistake: They’re playing, but they’re not playing around.
“They fight for that egg just like Ole Miss and Mississippi State do,” said Monica Daniels, Special Olympics Mississippi’s executive director. “These athletes are competitive. They are on their game, and they are here to do their personal best and to win. They get out there and give it their all.”
This year’s Unified Egg Bowl played out a little differently from the Thanksgiving night game in Starkville. The MSU SO Bulldogs pulled out a 15-12 victory in the flag football match. It was their second straight Unified Egg Bowl win over the Rebels.
Special Olympics athletes Ole Miss
Ole Miss and Mississippi State are both Special Olympics Colleges, which bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same teams.

Mississippi State took an early advantage with a touchdown and two-point conversion, while the Rebels got denied on every one of its first-half drives. The Bulldogs took an 8-0 lead into the locker room.
After halftime, Ole Miss found a way to break the State defense and put the ball in the end zone on a passing play, cutting the score down to 8-6. On the very next possession, MSU drove the ball down the field and scored another TD but failed on the two-point conversion attempt. Ole Miss then mounted a last-ditch scoring drive for a second touchdown before the clock ran out.
Special Olympics players train like other athletes for the games, noted Amanda Alpert, Ole Miss’ assistant director of intramural sports and sports clubs and an organizer of Wednesday’s game. “We practice all the time for events like this,” she said. “We have athletes who travel 45 minutes or an hour to get to practice. I can’t thank the parents and caregivers enough for their involvement.”
The Ole Miss team has qualified to compete at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle next summer, and Special Olympics Mississippi will send 32 other athletes to the national games, which will include softball, golf, tennis, bocce and track and field. All totaled, 4,000 athletes representing 50 state programs and the District of Columbia will compete in Seattle.
Rose and Callie Special Olympics
Callie Daniels Bryant and Rose Daniels, daughters of Special Olympics Mississippi executive director Monica Daniels, were on hand to cheer on athletes from both schools Wednesday night. Callie is an Ole Miss graduate, Oxford journalist and former HottyToddy.com editor, while Rose is a New York-based fashion model.

To help pay for events like the Unified Egg Bowl and the trip to the national games, Special Olympics Mississippi is holding an online fundraiser that invites Ole Miss and State fans to support their respective teams with donations. Click here to learn more and to donate.
Daniels took over the helm at Special Olympics Mississippi about a year ago. She started working with special-needs children after her daughter, Callie Daniels Bryant, an Ole Miss graduate in journalism and former HottyToddy.com editor, lost her hearing in early infancy. For several years in her childhood, Callie, who now lives in Etta, attended Magnolia Speech School in Jackson, which serves children with language disorders, autism and intellectual disabilities.
“I worked with those children at Magnolia, and now a lot of them are athletes here today,” Daniels said. “They’re on the field tonight, so it feels like I’ve come full circle. It’s kind of a cool moment for me.”
Watch video of the introductions of the Ole Miss team here:

 


Rick Hynum is HottyToddy.com’s editor-in-chief. Email him at rick.hynum@hottytoddy.com. Sports editor Adam Brown also contributed to this story.

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