Trevor Ciampoli is a Special Olympics athlete from Montgomery County who participates in long-distance running, track and field and floor hockey. This past weekend, Trevor received bronze medals at the 2019 Villanova Fall Festival in the 1500m and 5000m run events.
Ciampoli started running track and field in middle school as a member of his school team. Eventually, as he got to high school, he looked for new ways to stay involved with sports, in spite of the tryouts in high school varsity sports.
It was then that Ciampoli took up Special Olympics track and field, joining the Montgomery County team. Ciampoli’s first Fall Fest was in 2013, for Montgomery County, under new coach, Scott Otterbein. There, Ciampoli quickly formed a bond with Villanova students.
“My favorite thing about Fall Fest is that it is run by students,” Ciampoli said, “and you can see how much they care.”
Every Fall Festival, since his first, Ciampoli has made it a habit to talk to as many students as he can and make new friends.
However, as much as he talked to Villanova students and enjoyed his time at Fall Festival, it never really hit Ciampoli that he was a part of the Villanova community.
It all began with a new friendship he made with a current graduate student, Shlok Kanaria. Ciampoli and Kanaria met last year at the Villanova Strides 5K. After meeting, they would often run into each other in the Connelly Center and have conversations.
Kanaria soon began tutoring Ciampoli in computer science twice a week. The tutoring soon blossomed into a friendship, and the two stay in touch and often meet up in Connelly Center to this day.
“Shlok’s friendship means a lot to me,” Ciampoli said. “He’s taught me a lot, and he’s always been there for me.”
However, even outside of his friendship with Kanaria, Ciampoli’s time at Villanova is not limited to Fall Festival. Ciampoli spends most of his day like any other member of the Villanova community. You can often find him in the Connelly Center socializing with friends, working on some computer programming with other students or just taking some time to relax.
Ciampoli is now a part of the Special Olympics Committee, assisting the Evaluations committee by helping them code evaluation forms and also offering an athlete’s perspective on the weekend’s events and preparation.
Ultimately, it is students’ commitment to inclusion that makes Trevor feel at home at Villanova.
“Inclusion means to me not being alone,” Ciampoli said. “Someone is there for you, to support and care about you. Being an athlete with Special Olympics is an example of inclusion, making friends and having fun. No one should be left in the dark. You always have someone behind your back.”
Ciampoli may not play for a Villanova athletics team, but make no mistake about it. Ciampoli is as much a part of the Villanova community as any person on campus.