There was no shortage of praise and deserved honors to go around Sunday as more than 1,100 athletes were celebrated for their athletic achievements at the 2018 Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games at Cal State Long Beach.
Medals were awarded in basketball, bocce, swimming, and track and field.
Swimmers put together exciting individual and relay races. Standouts included 2018 USA Games selections Christina Principe and Lisa Koskovich. Christina won the 100-meter freestyle (Division F2), 100 individual medley (F3), 400 freestyle (F1) and placed seventh in the 4×50 freestyle relay (M3), while Lisa took home three gold medals in the 100 IM (F2), 200 freestyle (F1) and 50 breaststroke (F1).
Top 4×25 relay teams included Long Beach Team 1 (F1), The GirlRays of San Gabriel Valley (F2), Fullerton Sharks A (M1), Tri-Valley Dolphins (M2), Reseda Stingrays (M3), The Rays of San Gabriel Valley (M4), Santa Barbara Bowhead Whales (M5). In 4×50 action, Bellflower Torpedos (M1), Torrance (M2), Reseda Stingrays (M3), Surf City Swimmers (M4) and San Luis Obispo Flash (M5) took the gold. For full swimming results, click here.
On the hardwood, gold medal winners included the Inland Empire Central Riverside Warriors (blue division), Antelope Valley Elite (green), Long Beach Warriors (purple), El Cajon #1 (red), San Gabriel Valley Tomahawks (silver), Pasadena Ducks (yellow) and Antelope Valley Lady Lopes (orange). For full basketball results, click here.
In bocce, the eight divisions were won by: the San Gabriel Valley Bruins (aqua), Inland Empire Green Mojaves #2 (blue), Mighty Menifee Tornados (green), Ventura Conejo Primos (orange), Garden Grove Rebels (pink), Long Beach Riptide (purple), Corona Norco Red Dragons (red) and Corona Norco White Dragons (yellow). For full bocce results, click here.
The track was a busy place with nonstop action for two days. Athletes battled it out in 209 individual races and field competitions and seven relay races over the two days. The San Gabriel Valley program had a strong showing in all areas.
On the men’s side, Conrado Sandoval collected gold medals in the 100-meter run (Division 106) and helped the SGV Blazers win the 4×100 relay (Div. 159). He also added a silver in the 50 (Div. 28) and bronze in the shot put (M04).
For the women, Angela Caterino racked up three golds, winning the 100 (Div. 087), 50 (Div. 15) and powering the SGV Glyders in the 4×100 relay (Div. 154). In field events, she won silver in the long jump (F3). For full track and field results, click here.
In addition, Shannon Callahan and Joseph Hottendorf were named co-Most Inspirational Athlete of the Year. They were joined on stage by UCLA legend and Special Olympics Southern California founder Rafer Johnson.
“I’m so happy,” said Shannon, who was moved to tears. She also earned a pair of gold and silver medals over the weekend.
Volunteers from all over made the event a joy for all who attended – including four-man, acapella Doo-Wop group The Alley Cats. They sang hits from the 1950s and ‘60s and had the crowd dancing before and during Closing Ceremony.
For group member Armando Fonseca, the opportunity to perform for the athletes and their families was extra special. His 19-year-old nephew Nate competes in Orange County.
“When they say Special Olympics, these are special people,” he said. “There’s just love and joy and fun. They’re so non-judgmental and appreciative. It’s just a great experience and creates great memories for us.”
The two-day event included awards for not only the athletes, but the coaches who volunteer their time. The 2018 Coaches of the Season were: Bill Lovelace (track and field) and Dave Blomsterberg (flag football) of Santa Clarita & Tri-Valley, Hilda Bojorquez (bocce) and Claudia Chavez (basketball) of Inland Empire, and Kathy Brown (swimming) of Ventura County.
The John West Award, given to the outstanding volunteer of the year, was presented to Jeanette Skinner. After 50 years with Special Olympics Southern California, Skinner is retiring to spend more time with her family – which includes two sons who are athletes.
“She has a great heart, always putting our athletes first,” said Bill Shumard, president and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California. “She is dependable and a wealth of knowledge and experience.”