With two weeks remaining in the calendar year, it’s time to look back on 2018.
WeAreSOSC.org was created to help tell the stories of Special Olympics Southern California athletes and recap the various events and fundraisers.
Here are some of the highlights (click subhead for full post):
Back in February, Polytechnic High School was the host to a Unified basketball tournament featuring LAUSD schools in the North League. Marshall High School came out on top in the five-team field, but the bigger picture was a glimpse at what can be accomplished when we choose to include.
“To be part of one team, to work together and learn [each other’s] strengths… they can see that it’s really not that different,” said Chris Cevallos, who completed his first year as Marshall’s coach this past year. “They have some of the same goals, some of the same expectations.”
There was plenty of change at SOSC in 2018, and that included the sports plan. As a result, floor hockey was moved into its own season to allow for more athletes to play more sports year-round.
Thus, the Orange County Storm was formed. The team made its debut at Special Olympics Orange County’s regional competition in early February.
“To be able to come out here and be on a rink first the time was pretty exciting to the players. Our goalie was brand new in goal, brand new in the pads, and he was a rock star,” head coach Megan Prell said.
Competitions are just one aspect of Special Olympics, and one particular week highlighted the various roles a number of different play in the movement.
Bill Shumard, President and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California, was given the inaugural Tommy Hawkins Game-Changer Award from the John R. Wooden Award steering committee.
Meanwhile, representatives from both Northern and Southern California made a trip to the California State Capitol Building to advocate for Special Olympics.
Fundraisers were also in full swing, with local law enforcement officers lending their time to join forces with Special Olympics athletes at restaurants for Tip-A-Cop events.
“[The athletes] love to be part of it. Seeing the smile on their face is what makes us happy,” said Brian Mosher, a police corporal and detective for the Fountain Valley Police Department’s crime suppression unit.
Sixty-six athletes and Unified partners across Southern California had the opportunity of a lifetime in July, representing the area at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
“To me, it’s about life,” Paul said. “[Special Olympics] teaches you about life.”
It all comes back to the athletes and their inspiring performances, and it would be tough to find a more jaw-dropping display than Del Anderson II’s day at the Bowling Championship in August.
The Mighty Menifee standout posted a cumulative 727 score over three games to win the gold medal in Division M27. He only got stronger going into his final game, opening with four consecutive strikes and closing with three strikes in the final frame to finish with a single-game, tournament-best 247.
Each strike drew more and more spectators in, and among them were his proud parents.
“He loves everything about bowling,” his father Del Sr. said. “He studies the game.”
Warren High School had the honor of being named one of 30 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools this year, and, in September was named an ESPN Top-5 Unified Champion School.
The school was an example of the “inclusion revolution,” meeting 10 national standards of excellence in areas such as Unified sports, inclusive youth leadership, whole-school engagement and sustainability.
“Receiving the national banner validates the work and effort of our staff into creating an inclusive environment,” said Christine Spino, a special education instructor at Warren High School.
Here’s to more inspiring stories and great competitions in 2019.
Among the biggest will be the 2019 Special Olympics World Games hosted by Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates. Part of the 2017-athlete delegation finalized in October for Special Olympics Team USA was Southern California’s Faith Demos (golf), Tyrone Garrett and Sarah Kovacs (track and field), Mark Hanson and Krystal Johnson (tennis), and Jonathan Pierce (swimming).
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.