Special Olympics Competes In Fall Tournament


Last updated 11/11/2019 at 5:30pm

The bocce team and singles includes Bob Molloy, Jamie Owen, Sam Snyder, Coach Eric Edwards, Andrew Szott and Michael Ream. (Courtesy photos

Transylvania County Special Olympics travelled to Charlotte recently to compete in the state competition, the Fall Tournament.

Two soccer teams, one bocce team, and one bocce single made the cut.

The weather was brisk and sunny in Charlotte. It was perfect weather for outside play. The soccer team, the Fighting White Squirrels, were in Division 3 in the state and took part in a five-a-side competition at UNC Charlotte.

Two games were played on Friday, Nov. 1, three games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.

Sunday's first game determined whether they would play for gold, silver, bronze or fourth place.

After winning their first game on Sunday 3-0, the Fighting White Squirrels were up against the best undefeated team in their division.

Coach Mack McKeller and the team developed a strategy that changed everything about how the team played in the next game.

They had played this team the day before and knew they were tough.

The Fighting White Squirrels implemented their strategy and held the Wake County team at bay keeping the score tied 0-0 the entire first half.

Fans were excited and on the edge of their seats as they watched the game unfold.

The Fighting White Squirrel's goalie was injured as he dove on a ball and had to come out of the game.

Then, the Wake County team scored, but the Fighting White Squirrels were not down long. Daniel Rothe, the team captain, had a grand opportunity and took it.

He scored, tying the game up 1-1. They held them again as fans were discussing how this would play out if the game ended in a tie. Fifty-three seconds were left on the clock, and the Fighting White Squirrels held the Wake County team strong until Wake scored a goal.

Although the game was over, the Fighting White Squirrels were thrilled to have given the Wake County team a run for their money, leaving them tired and sweaty, and making them earn their gold rather than taking it.

McKeller said he was incredibly impressed for the way the team came up with a strategy and implemented it all the way through.

"I couldn't ask for a better team," he said.

The bocce team and singles played at Carolina Court in Indian Trail near Charlotte.

Transylvania Rolling Thunder placed in the 3rd Division in the state after two games on Friday and three games on Saturday.

Sunday's games were also to determine gold, silver, bronze or fourth place.

The Rolling Thunder team was down 6-0 and made a come-back against the Guilford-Greensboro County team bringing the score up. Transylvania Rolling Thunder put up a good fight and took home the bronze medal in the single elimination round.

Bocce singles fought hard in a back-and-forth game and succumbed 10-12.

This was the first year taking bocce teams to the state tournament and this was the coach's first year as well.

Coach Eric Edwards said the weekend was "absolutely perfect, and he couldn't be more proud."

"If they are happy, I am happy," he said.

Overall, the soccer team won silver, the bocce team won bronze, bocce singles won fourth place, soccer skills won two gold medals, one silver medal and fourth place.

Soccer team members of the Fighting White Squirrels are Daniel Rothe, Dalton Leopard, Mikey Sawick, Steven Kimbrell, Eugene Robinson, Riley Williams, Michael Cook and Tyler Smith.

Soccer skills team are Scott Wolf, Jonathan McCall, Destiny Jones and Kathleen Lee.

Bocce team members are Jamie Owen, Sam Snyder, Michael Ream, and Bob Molloy. Bocce Singles are Andrew Szott.

Other soccer team players unable to attend/compete are Carolyn Samspon, Nick Williams, Kim Chamberlain, Brittany Rothe and Avery McKeller.

You may recognize Carolyn Sampson's name as she is a global messenger for the county and, in addition to that duty, runs a business called Reason to Bake.

Sampson had to be scratched from the delegation this weekend due to other big news. She has developed a cookie exclusively for Camp Blue Skies, a camp for disabled adults that has various camps around North Carolina.

The cookie is gluten free as the company bakes goodies that are only gluten free. You can find their baked goods at Food Matters. Sampson was featured on the local news stations in Charlotte to promote the partnership and was invited to a gala the first evening of competition.

Other great news for Transylvania County Special Olympics is that, recently, Dalton Leopard was nominated as global messenger and attended a training this summer. Sampson is already serving in this role, and Leopard will be a great addition.

From their website, http://www.SONC.net, "Global Messengers are Special Olympics athletes who help spread the message and vision of the movement as well as the benefits they have gained by participating in Special Olympics. Through sports training and competitions, Special Olympics helps people with intellectual disabilities find joy, acceptance and success. "As their lives open up, athletes gain the confidence that comes with achievement. They feel empowered.

"They are ready to take on new leadership challenges to make use of their new abilities. They become mentors for other athletes. They train to become coaches and officials. They also move toward a more public role as a speaker or spokesperson. They speak to audiences and journalists about the positive changes that Special Olympics helped bring about in their lives. At Special Olympics, our athletes are empowered to share their many gifts and talents with society.

"Yet, it's more than that. Our athletes also become empowered to be leaders in society – and teach us all about acceptance and understanding."

This past week, Transylvania County Special Olympics received word that Dalton was also voted in to be on the Athlete Counsel.

This counsel consists of 12 athletes from across the state and is a direct source of input to the Board of Directors.

The Athlete Counsel is a voice of athletes that help make decisions and serves Special Olympics North Carolina.

Transylvania County Special Olympics' annual Polar Plunge is in the planning stages and will be held at Lake Atagahi in Connesstee Falls on Feb. 29, leap day.

This is an annual fundraiser that enables them to take athletes to competitions, such as these at no cost to the athlete or their family. Information on this event will be released in January.

Mark your calendars now to leap in the lake and take the Polar Plunge. You will not want to miss this great event.

Special Olympics would like to extend a huge thanks to the volunteers, chaperones and coaches that assist with making this all possible.

Another thank you to Dunkin' Donuts for providing breakfast for the trip.

Special Olympics provides sports opportunities for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.

To find out more information about Special Olympics, visit http://www.SONC.net to volunteer, join or coach.

The soccer team includes Riley Williams, Tyler Smith, Mikey Sawick, Daniel Rothe, Eugene Robinson, Dalton Leopard, Steven Kimbrell and Michael Cook.


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