Special Olympics teams are booming with pride in Maple Valley

Special Olympics Track & Field team: Front Row (L-R) – Ryce Strong, Kameron Hayes, Sox White, Jayden Peterson, Owen Spicer, Carver Howell, Liam Wright, Brianna Brink, and Brian Rosen. Middle Row: Alexa Curtis, Brody Cummins, Caleb Moss, Brayden Marcus, Makayla, MVSO Ted James, and Sean Carter. Back Row: Colten Douglas, Miguel McCoy, Ethan Karaim, Jordan Price, Jordan Hurst, Kathryn Kienle, Maddie, Joe Novak, Connor Cummins. Teammates missing from the photo: Neyland Brown, Teegan Chamberlin, Ezra Cornelison, Eric Davis, Tanner Grinzel, Jake Lopan, Coltin Picard, Ethan Rhodes, Noah Ruelos, Serenity Straub, Daja White, Hanna White, and Sawyer Wiggins. Missing MVSO athletes Michelle Freitag, Christy Meyers, Elise Skovmand, Sarah Plourd, Skylar Fetter, Evan Peterson, Larry Willis, and Jordan Schwab.

Tahoma School District has always encouraged their students to not only excel in the area of academia, but also in extracurricular activities such as sports, robotics, drama, debate, and much more. Included in that mix are some very special students who have been excelling in athletics as part of the District’s Special Olympic team.

Since beginning in 2000, the Tahoma School District (TSD) Special Olympics team is now seeing and enjoying the largest turnout of athletes it has worked with in its 17-year history. These very special young people have grown over the years producing any number of state qualified tournament team athletes. Not only have they sent athletes to State level tournaments in both Basketball and Track & Field events, but they have also been privileged to send their athletes to compete at National level competition as well as at the World level competition at the World Games in Dublin, Ireland.

Proud Tahoma School District Special Olympics State Championship Basketball team members include: (L-R) Ethan Hicks, Jake Lopan, Alex Giske, Serenity Straub, Miguel McCoy, Joey Kagan, Frankie Pebles, and Eric Davis.

Drawing from every school in the TSD, it has brought over 50 student athletes together this year in the sports of Basketball and Track &Field. Basketball season, which has just finished, runs from December through March. The annual Special Olympic Winter Games took place on March 4-5, and brought top athletes and unified partners from across the state to compete. Coached by Ron Eller, 8 athletes from Tahoma Senior High School traveled to the Washington State Special Olympic Winter Games in Wenatchee and brought home the gold in Basketball for Division 1. The gold medal team included Serenity Straub, Eric Davis, Alex Giske, Jake Lopan, Ethan Hicks, Miguel McCoy, Joey Kagan, and Frankie Pebles.

Special Olympics Track & Field team: Front Row (L-R) – Ryce Strong, Kameron Hayes, Sox White, Jayden Peterson, Owen Spicer, Carver Howell, Liam Wright, Brianna Brink, and Brian Rosen. Middle Row: Alexa Curtis, Brody Cummins, Caleb Moss, Brayden Marcus, Makayla, MVSO Ted James, and Sean Carter. Back Row: Colten Douglas, Miguel McCoy, Ethan Karaim, Jordan Price, Jordan Hurst, Kathryn Kienle, Maddie, Joe Novak, Connor Cummins. Teammates missing from the photo: Neyland Brown, Teegan Chamberlin, Ezra Cornelison, Eric Davis, Tanner Grinzel, Jake Lopan, Coltin Picard, Ethan Rhodes, Noah Ruelos, Serenity Straub, Daja White, Hanna White, and Sawyer Wiggins. Missing MVSO athletes Michelle Freitag, Christy Meyers, Elise Skovmand, Sarah Plourd, Skylar Fetter, Evan Peterson, Larry Willis, and Jordan Schwab.

 

Independent of TSD’s Special Olympic programs, Maple Valley has an additional Special Olympic sports program – Maple Valley Special Olympics (MVSO). This organization also offers Basketball and Track & Field along with other seasonal sports such as Bowling and Flag Football in the fall, Swimming in the spring, and Golf and Softball during the summer. The majority of MVSO’s programs are suitable for all ages of Special Olympic athletes, especially the adult population.

Several of these athletes just finished competing alongside of thousands of athletes from all over Washington State in Swimming and Track & Field, in the Special Olympics Washington (SOWA) Spring Games on June 3-4. The games were held at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

Special Olympics has shown over the years to build confidence, self-esteem, and teamwork in these very special kids – which are only just some of the benefits of involvement in the sports. For many athletes, Special Olympics is a path to empowerment, competence, acceptance, joy and lifelong friendships. This worldwide organization has as its mission to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

For information on TSD programs contact Karen Smejkal Special Olympics Program Coordinator at: ksmejkal@tahomas.us

For information on the MVSO programs contact www.mvsa.biz