June 23: Olympic Day

UD students help state, USOC celebrate birth of modern Olympics

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11:18 a.m., June 20, 2011--University of Delaware sport management students will be playing an integral part of bringing the Olympic spirit to the Diamond State this week. Undergraduate students Dana Griskowitz and Mary Holloway, along with graduate student Matt Sparks, who serves as executive director of the Delaware Sports Commission, have worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to organize a statewide celebration of Olympic Day 2011 through the week of June 17-26. 

Olympic Day is recognized annually on June 23 in Delaware, and also in 160 countries around the world. It is intended to commemorate the birth of the modern Olympic Games. Additionally, Olympic Day is an international effort to promote fitness, wellbeing, and the Olympic ideals of fair play, sportsmanship, respect and perseverance. 

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Griskowitz and Holloway began planning Olympic Day festivities in February -- Griskowitz as part of an independent study with Matthew Robinson, professor of sport management, and Holloway as an intern with the Delaware Sports Commission.  The two students communicated with the USOC in obtaining support materials and being educated on USOC and International Olympic Committee protocol for the event. They then reached out to Sport Organizations throughout the state. 

Griskowitz received a Service-Learning and Community-Based Research Fellowship from the University's Office of Service Learning that helped fund some of the expenses associated with organizing the event. 

Robinson, who also serves as president of the Delaware Sports Commission, said, “I give Dana, Mary and Matt all the credit in taking the initiative on this. Olympic Day is such a great way to share the Olympic ideals and spirit with our youngest athletes. They all cannot be Olympic athletes but they can be honest, hardworking and respectful competitors and contribute to making the world a better place, which is the ultimate goal of the Olympic Movement."

Robinson added that Olympic Day would not be possible without the support of Sue Serra and the Office of Service Learning, which sponsored the work by Griskowitz. "It has been an incredible learning experience for Dana and Mary and a lot of young athletes will be impacted by the events,” Robinson said.

The week's festivities include the proclamation of Thursday, June 23, as Olympic Day in Delaware by Gov. Jack Markell during a ceremony in the Governor’s Office.  In attendance at the ceremony will be members of the University of Delaware Bluefish youth swim team.

On Saturday, June 25, the Suburban Swim League will recognize the day at all 11 of its swim meets with a ceremony and the awarding of an Olympic flag to each club. Also, there will be a ceremonial lap by a member of each team at the same pace to recognize the spirit of cooperation and sportsmanship that are cornerstones of the Olympic ideals. More than 1,100 swimmers will participate in meets on that day  

Along with this, each of the teams in the league will recognize a swimmer who best embodies the Olympic ideals with the Delaware Sports Commission's Olympic Spirit Award. From those 22, one swimmer will be named the Delaware Sports Commission Suburban Swim League Olympic Spirit Award winner.

“The Delaware Sports Commission believes in the Olympic movement and the positive impact it creates for society," said Sparks. “The DSC appreciates the support the Suburban Swim League and the efforts of Dana and Mary. We look forward to hosting the event for years to come and impacting more sport organizations.  Let the Olympic Day begin!”

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