Special Olympics Southern California athletes showed that they work hard, and play even harder, this past weekend.
Four competitions were spread out on the weekend, from as far north as Santa Maria to as down south as Riverside — including the North Divisional Fall Games and Orange County’s Regional Fall Games.
Then, on Sunday, several athletes took in the food, rides and fun at the 22nd annual Pier del Sol in Santa Monica.
North Divisional Fall Games
More than 300 athletes from the counties of Kern, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Northern Santa Barbara and Ventura competed in soccer, softball and tennis on Saturday at the North Divisional Fall Games.
Santa Barbara United and the Ventura Sharks claimed gold medals for soccer in their respective divisions.
On the tennis court, gold medals in singles action were won by Kyle Austin (brown division), Christopher Evans (green division), Patrick Del Real (blue division), Conrad Camacho (red division) and Brandon Womack (purple division). Doubles competition gold medalists included teams of: Jacob Kuhn/Cristian Quintanar of Santa Barbara (white division), Kevin Johnson/Rebecca High of Kern (orange division, mixed doubles), Melessa Galbraith/Amy Petersons of Santa Barbara (gray division) and Ted Rudolph/David Schoettler (yellow division).
For San Luis Obispo County tennis athlete Justus Jordan, 24, the competitions remain a highlight going into his 16th year.
“He’s always loved sports,” said his mother, Daree Jordan. “It was just a natural progression.”
Also, athletes were treated to a flag football demonstration, with the help of 11 members of the Orcutt Academy High School football team.
Ben Alberry, the school’s football coach, also volunteers his time as a Special Olympics coach in San Luis Obispo County. He’s been a coach for nine years, including his start with Special Olympics South Carolina, and the volunteer opportunity presented his players with the chance to try their own hand at coaching.
“I’m very passionate about [Special Olympics] so I wanted to bring my team over. My team is really loving being involved and having some fun with this,” he said.
OC Regional Fall Games
Nearly 700 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners braved the rain Saturday for competitions in soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball in Santa Ana. Golfers competed Sunday at Brea Creek Golf Course.
Greater Los Angeles’ LAFC (courage division), Antelope Valley Storm (pride division), Tri-Valley Clippers (eastern division) and Inland Empire-Temecula Outlaws (western division) earned gold medals in soccer.
On the links, top finishers included Richard Jensen of Carlsbad (division M1), Marc Weakland of Laguna Hills (division M2), Jacob Bowers of Rancho Bernardo (division M3) and William White of Temecula Valley (division M4). Susan Johnson of the Huntington Beach Crush was the top female performer.
In alternate shot Unified play, gold medals to both Orange County’s Matthew Carter/Daniel Drake and Temecula’s Kenneth Barkhuff/Robert Wexler as the pairs tied for first in division M6. Other gold medalists in golf were: San Diego County’s Michael Roth/Kenneth Ries (division M1), Orange County’s Reyna O’Campo/Robert Allred (division M2), Temecula’s Ryan and Andrew Powell (division M3), Temecula’s Kathleen Kelly/Brian Havey (division M4), Orange County’s Michael Thai/Brian McNiff (division M5) and Orange County’s Robert Wittal-Magdaleno/Joyce Wittal (division M7).
When they weren’t on the courts and playing fields, athletes made their way over to the Healthy Athletes Special Smiles station for free health services.
Pier del Sol
It was on a party on the Pier, as Special Olympics Southern California continued its 50th anniversary celebration at the 22nd annual Pier del Sol.
We would like to extend a big thank you to the amazing volunteers, chefs, restaurants and sponsors who made the fundraiser a success. The supporters who came out enjoyed the food and rides, and helped raise nearly $500,000.
Inside the SOSC is a blog written by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.