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Some Special Olympics reflections to start a new year

Sharing favourite memories of longtime volunteers
Competing teams curling rocks meeting near the center of an end.

Hello readers! The New Year is here! 

Special Olympics here on the Sunshine Coast is made up of amazing individuals in all aspects from coaches to executive to athletes. 

At the last basketball game before the holidays, between Sechelt and Gibsons, Sechelt’s players happily shared the wealth by combining with the Gibsons athletes to form a fair- sided game. It was at that game that I was able to conduct some interviews with the following folks. 

Pat Stuart, a member of the executive has been connected with SOSC for 18 years. Pat became involved when her son, Bruce graduated high school and was looking to continue with sports, a deep passion. 

Although bowling was the only sport at the time, Pat recalls one of her first duties was collecting the lane fees from each athlete. Every Saturday, athletes met in Gibsons and hit the lanes. It was a sad day when it closed. 

One favourite memory for Pat was when our curling team was chosen to attend provincial games in Kamloops and although no medals were won, she fondly recalls how they sang songs on the bus, slept on a classroom floor and had fun as a group. Pat’s goals for 2024? Attract more volunteers and have athletes attend competitions off Coast. 

Samantha Giampa has been a coach for 16 years. Samantha passed on her love of basketball to her Gibsons athletes. She also helped with soccer for five-six years. She joined our ranks when Laurie Miller (former basketball and soccer coach for Gibsons) asked her to help out. Last summer, Samantha received her 15-year service pin! She finds being a coach rewarding, especially when she sees her athletes achieve something she has taught them. She hopes to work on positioning on the court in 2024. 

Marilyn Downey, a coach  15 years says it’s “been an honour to be involved with this organization.” She enjoys being with the athletes on the court and having fun, as well as the interaction with other coaches. Marilyn hopes to attend games off Coast in 2024, especially one in Vancouver. 

On the athlete side of things, Derick Pye has been with SOSC for 14 years. After hearing that some friends had joined up, he decided to give it a shot. He plays most sports and for about five or six years has been a peer mentor, after taking a training course on the mainland. Derick finds being an athlete fun and enjoys the art of sport. 

More interviews will be published next month when the Fall/Winter season of Special O resumes in the second week of January. Athletes and coaches will have holiday tales to recount and smiles on their faces! 2024 opens new doors for a year of accomplishments and new goals. Let’s get to it!