Rockford varsity girls’ volleyball team works with special needs athletes

By Cindy M. Cranmer


Several Rockford High School volleyball players took the opportunity to share their time and talents with special needs students of varying degrees recently.

Rockford High School students have been giving back through the RAMS program, which stands for Rockford Athletes with a Mission of Service. Through the athletic teams and the RAMS program, high school athletes have been working with special needs students. Tom Carlson is the RAMS volunteer coordinator through the Rockford Sports Boosters.

“It’s a great community service project for the team,” said Kelly Delacher, varsity girl’s coach for the past eight years. “The girls do a great job working with these kids. It’s a great time.” The varsity girls have done the volleyball clinic for two years.

Amy Kelley, a parent volunteer who helps coordinate the clinics, said students enjoy the clinics and everyone was having a good time learning about volleyball. “They’re having fun doing different things,” Kelley said. The clinic was designed to use either balloons or volleyballs to match the needs of the students. “They have choices to do things at the level they are comfortable,” she said.

Rockford athletes who participate through RAMS get credit for the time they spend with the special needs students as well as enjoying the experience.

The National Honor Society and some universities require students to find a way to serve. Any students who volunteer get certificates that include their sport, the task and the number of volunteer hours they performed.

“It’s cool seeing the kids playing and smiling,” said Karlee Tykosky, a junior who has participated in the clinic both years. “It’s a lot of fun.” She described Allison, the five-year-old girl she was working with, as “a blast.” “She’s cute. I get to share a sport that I have played since fifth grade,” she said. “I just love volleyball.”

Madye Johnson, a sophomore who also has done the clinic for two years, said she has fun teaching children the sport she enjoys so much. “I like when they finally get it and then they like it,” Johnson said. “Even if they never get it, they always have fun.”

Johnson, who has been playing since she was 11, enjoys volleyball and hopes that some of the children learn to appreciate it as well.

Sue Passarelli, mother to fifth-grader Cori Passarelli, said her daughter enjoys the clinics. “This is her favorite thing to do,” she said. “She always has an awesome time.She was so excited tonight. I can’t say enough good things about Amy and Tom Carlson for giving up their time to make this happen.” Passarelli said the dance clinics were her daughter’s favorite with volleyball being “a close second.”

The clinics are available to students for free or a nominal cost depending on grant monies. The clinics are fully monitored and individualized to match the abilities of each student who participates by being one-on-one or two-on-one for most events.

Anyone who wants to learn more about the clinics or opportunities for those with special needs can contact Amy Kelley through email at “I have a heart for these kids and this cause,” Kelley said.

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