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Spotlight on Special O: Athletes reflect as spring-summer season wraps

Registration for 2023/2024 season tentatively set for Sept. 12
The Sunshine Coast Ravens Special O softball team with staff from Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living before their awesome game.

With the arrival of summer break comes the closing of the spring/summer Special Olympics season for 2023.  

On June 12, our soccer athletes joined the RCMP at Gibsons Elementary School Field for a friendly final game. It began as SOSC vs RCMP but morphed into Red vs Yellow with the teams intermingling. Play was fast and fierce with dynamic goaltending and defense from Kyle VanderHeide and Dustin Archer and tactical offense from Sam Fitzgerald and Amber Maher. 

Assistant coach Jessica Simpson says of this year’s season: “It’s been a lot of fun and great to see everyone improving.” 

She also shared a memory that stands out for her: “The very first practice, they made me play Alien [a gauntlet type game] where they tried to hit me with the ball!” 

Athlete Sam Fitzgerald, whose favourite position on the field, is forward, says the season went great. Amber Maher feels the same but also attributes the great season to the weather “playing ball” as well. 

Nicole Hall, of the RCMP, appreciates how Special Olympics celebrates inclusivity, and she would know, having previously worked with S.O. for 12 years in Campbell River and five in the Comox Valley. 

The AGM for SOSC followed the soccer game. Each executive member gave summarizing reports and outlined possible plans for the future. The tentative date for Registration for the 2023/2024 season was set for Sept. 12. 

June 13 witnessed Round 2 between the Sunshine Coast Ravens softball team and the Staff of Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living (SCACL). 

As with the previous day’s soccer match, the game was hard and fast, with SCACL looking to overcome last year’s defeat. There were some heavy hitters on both sides, but, one in particular was a homer from Kyle VanderHeide that brought a whopping three other teammates home with him. 

Trevor Beckman, assistant coach felt this season, though short, was fun, especially watching the newer athletes learn. 

Kyle VanderHeide felt very good about this year’s play and finds it was fun all around. 

Amanda Boghean also feels that way, especially when she pulled a double play at a previous practice! 

SCACL member Jodi says, “We were WAY BETTER than last year!” and delighted in hitting the ball and touring the bases. 

Fellow teammate Jan shares those feelings. “Seeing Kyle’s [VanderHeide] great hit that brought everyone home, was terrific!” 

So was your outfield catch Jan! 

Newcomer to the diamond, Amberlea had this to say, 

“It was ALOT of fun! I’m actually pretty competitive so I enjoyed that aspect. I enjoyed cheering on both sides and definitely will return to the bases next year.” 

There will be many things to look forward to next year and one is a mighty milestone. 2024 will be the 30-year anniversary of the founding of our Local. It’s hard to believe that at first, all that was available was 5-pin bowling. Now we’re batting, running, golfing and much more. Hip. Hip, Hooray! We really have been brave in the attempt!