While Mount Si’s softball program has made its mark on the field over the last several years, two of the team’s top players are also creating a legacy of community service.
Senior infielder Danae Englund and junior pitcher Rachel Nyberg have helped with the local Special Olympics program for people with disabilities for the past two years. They have assisted in the softball, basketball and bowling programs with Special Olympics, which, according to its Web site, has been in Washington since 1975. Nearly two million disabled athletes have participated in Special Olympics competitions worldwide.
Nyberg has enjoyed her experience with the athletes. “It’s really fun. They teach you a lot, just to be happy all the time, and they just have such a good spirit,” Nyberg said. “It’s really good to see people like that.”
Englund plans on continuing her work for the organization, and in general with people who have special needs. “It’s very rewarding and it’s led me to many other things to do with them,” she said. “I get so much out of it.”
Englund and Nyberg do many different tasks as part of their volunteer efforts, and have helped people from all age groups with many different disabilities. Both have learned a lot from their experience, which will help them as they move into their adult years. “I’ve learned a lot of patience. I’ve needed a lot of patience and it’s really helped me out a lot. I’ve just learned how to deal with people like that, because I hadn’t had any experience with it before,” Englund said.
Mount Si softball coach Larry White said their efforts are part of what he wants his program to be about. “It speaks a lot about the character of what we’ve been trying to get going here for the last few years. It’s really neat to see that those girls want to give back after all that they provide here at the school,” the veteran coach said.
Englund has not only helped people locally, but has helped them abroad as well. As part of a mission last summer organized by the Cascade Covenant Church in North Bend, she went to the Dominican Republic and helped special needs kids in that country. That experience was even more rewarding. “Even though I couldn’t speak Spanish, I still got so much out of it because they’re just looking for love and encouragement,” Englund said.
“It changed me a lot and it just taught me to appreciate what I have here, because we have so much and we take it all for granted. They really don’t have much at all, and they’re like just as happy or happier than we are here,” she added. Englund also said she’s hoping to be able to go back next year and do more good work.
Nyberg hopes the community will open their eyes. “Just to see that even though they do have a disability, they can still be productive and they can still do the normal things,” the junior said.
White is hoping that the efforts of his two veterans leave an impact on his team. “Well, I just think it’s a great thing when the kids see that they can give back, and the younger kids look up to them just because they’re part of something good at Mount Si High School,” the coach said.