Hogg’s work with Special Olympics reflects the work of MU athletes in the community | Mizzou Sports


After earning two All-Mountain West Conference honors in swimming during her freshman year at Boise State, Molly Hogg’s swimming career with the Broncos came to an unexpected end.

On July 2, 2020, Hogg and her teammates were forced to find new programs to compete in after the Boise State Athletic Program cut the women’s swimming and diving team due to budget issues at the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the door closed on her chances of ending her four-year career in Boise, a window opened for Hogg when she was transferred to MU three weeks later. The new program came with new opportunities to make an impact in the pool and in the greater Columbia community.

Hogg’s transfer opened up the possibility of working as a behavior technician at BlueSprig to become a Certified Behavior Technician (RBT), where she hopes to provide behavior analysis and work with people with special needs. The move also gave Hogg the opportunity to do more volunteer work, which she immediately did by helping the Special Olympics in Colombia.

“When I transferred to Mizzou, I wanted to start getting involved in the community in any way I could,” Hogg said. “There were signs posted at MATC (Mizzou Athletic Training Complex) about volunteering with Special Olympics, and I was like, ‘Hey, this is a great way to get involved in the community,’ and I so started volunteering when I started Go There.”

Fast forward nearly two years later, Hogg began working part-time with Columbia Parks and Rec helping with Special Olympics, where she works as a coach for the sport she knows best – swimming – as well as some sports which she had never done before.

“My goal is just to help athletes have fun and help them learn a new skill,” Hogg said. “It’s hard to have to step out of my comfort zone, but when I have the opportunity to help someone, I will step in and do whatever I can to help them.”

Stepping out of your comfort zone by volunteering with people with special needs is something Hogg learned early on in his volunteer journey. While at Boise State, she spent summers volunteering at a camp for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). At camp, she was paired one-on-one with children ages eight to 17 and learned about the different talents and abilities that people with muscular dystrophy possess.

“Some people in the community don’t think people with disabilities have other talents, they’re just defined by their disability,” Hogg said. “This camp has taught me that he can be one of them, but that’s not who they are.”

Hogg’s experience at MDA camp included a talent show, where she cried while listening to one of the campers sing Billie Eilish and she bonded with one of the campers who strummed a song on guitar from Shinedown , whom she had already seen in concert. She has continued to help MDA every summer since her first volunteering in the summer of 2019.

Once Hogg arrived in Missouri, she found a new opportunity to combine her love of volunteerism with her athletic background to work with Special Olympics.

Hogg began as one of many student-athletes at MU to volunteer with Special Olympics and other community organizations. To graduate with a student-athlete belt, MU athletes must volunteer for at least 40 hours during their college career. Tyler Armstrong, the adaptive sports specialist for Columbia Parks and Recreation, sees entire teams within MU’s sports program helping out with Special Olympics.

“I get emails from parents saying, ‘I’m so glad we have volunteers because all week all my kid talks about is going bowling and hanging out with some of the wrestlers’. said Armstrong.

Athletes have access to the Helper Helper app, which allows them to log their volunteer hours and discover different opportunities to help. If athletes want to go as a group, they can view the date to see if their friends have signed up.

“They offer endless upcoming opportunities that you can sign up for very easily and then your hours will be logged right in the app so you can keep track of what you’ve done and how many hours you still need to get,” said Amy Feddersen, one of Hogg’s teammates on MU’s swim and dive team. “It’s really helped me find ways to get involved in the community. noticed that other athletes are starting to sign up and get involved as well, so that’s really exciting.

When Feddersen reviewed the schools during her recruiting process, she recalled that MU’s swim and dive team emphasized the importance of volunteerism and community involvement.

“It’s something they focused on and it was something that I thought was really cool when I was recruiting here,” Feddersen said. “They really make sure the athletes get involved in the community and give back.”

When Hogg moved to Columbia, she took the culture of community involvement to heart with MU’s swim and dive team. After finding out about the opportunity with Special Olympics, Hogg showed up for her first practice in the fall of 2020 for bowling. Armstrong saw several college athletes volunteer for Special Olympics, but remembers Hogg as one of the few who immediately stepped up to do the toughest work.

“Right away I could tell she was phenomenal and you could tell she had experience working with special needs,” Armstrong said. “She took on the group that needed bowling help the most and she wanted to be part of that group. So, that’s almost a hand on every athlete and she wanted to be with those two lanes, and then after seeing that, I was like, ‘Oh my god, she’s fantastic.’

Hogg continued to show up for bowling weekly, then helped out with bocce and tennis as the seasons progressed. She asked her friends from the swim and dive team to come and volunteer with her, but even when she was the only one available that week, Hogg showed up and helped out solo.

Armstrong noticed that Hogg came to help at a steady pace and also saw qualities in the way she worked with athletes that made her a good person to become more than a volunteer.

“We normally have to hold hands with volunteers from time to time, many of them have never worked with people with special needs,” Armstrong said. “So they don’t really know how to behave when around people with special needs. Molly simply insisted: “Hey, I’m going to help the group who are going to need some practical help.”

By working with the group that needed the most help, Hogg showed she could hold her own and work with athletes in a respectful way.

“If an athlete has some kind of depression or just starts screaming or just says, ‘I don’t care about bowling, I’m just going to sit here’, Molly was the type of person to ask what’s bothering them and to talk to them through her,” Armstrong said. “She’s worked with some of our toughest athletes who are very tough or very outspoken and may say something inappropriate from time to time, and Molly is always up for it. manage.”

After volunteering with Special Olympics for an entire college year, Armstrong approached Hogg about starting a paid, part-time position as assistant coordinator for Special Olympics, which she accepted and began in January.

In the new role, Hogg is one of four workers supervised by Armstrong and can coach the various sports offered by Special Olympics without Armstrong’s presence. Although Hogg knows enough about swimming having been involved in swimming since she was six years old, there are sports she coaches that she has never competed in before.

“I want to be as proficient as possible, although it can be difficult to learn those specific skills, especially a layup, but I kind of learned how to do that,” Hogg said. “I’m still learning the rules of basketball, and now we’re playing volleyball, I have no idea of ​​the rules of volleyball but I’m learning. They help me understand too and so teach me things too and they sometimes laugh at me if I like a shot or a lay-up like completely wrong they’ll laugh or something, but it’s still a lot of fun.”

Another role Hogg has taken on is to do more outreach within his swimming and diving team and Missouri athletics as a whole. Feddersen began to become more involved with Special Olympics after Hogg told his team about it.

“We had a swimmer Bible study that we did on Sunday nights and she would talk about something that brought her joy that week or something that she wanted to work on and sometimes it had to do with her job. via Special Olympics,” Feddersen mentioned. “It kind of sparked an interest in my mind, and then when she really started to get involved and coordinate things, that’s when she really kept inviting other swimmers to come and I finally decided to show up for a week. It really captured my attention as soon as I arrived and I was like, “This is something I want to get more involved in.”

Feddersen is heavily involved in full volunteerism and represents Missouri Swimming and Diving on the SEC Community Service Team. She credits the athletic program for encouraging athletes like her and Hogg to get involved in volunteer endeavors that they are passionate about.

“The athletic department does a great job providing these opportunities and it’s also a great way to hang out with friends,” Feddersen said. “I have a lot of cool teammates who kind of dragged me into different things like Habitat for Humanity or trail cleanups or something like that, but it’s really cool to give time to the community and to then see that it pays off through athletics. ”

Two years ago, Hogg was at a crossroads over what to do after she found herself unable to swim or dive to compete. But as she completes her sophomore year at Missouri, she realizes that without the transfer, she wouldn’t be in the positions she currently holds as a behavior technician and assistant coordinator for Special Olympics, all of which give her two the chance to help children. with special needs.

“I’m really happy to be here and it’s provided me with great opportunities, especially making those connections in the community and I don’t think I would have ever had the job that I have,” Hogg said. . “Right now I’m just a behavior technician, and then once I got my certification for an RBT (registered behavior technician), and I don’t think I would ever have done that or had the time for Special Olympics and working for them, so I think everything happens for a reason.

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