BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Kern County proved to be a tremendous host, as its athletes and coaches put on quite the performance Saturday at the Special Olympics Southern California Floor Hockey Championship.
Kern County was one of the four gold medalists, as 16 teams battled it out in four divisions at the Kern County Fairgrounds. The Kern County Condors prevailed in the white division, while the San Diego County El Cajon Gulls (blue), Santa Clarita Valley Sharks (gold) and San Diego County Vista Red Wings (red) accounted for the other first-place finishes.
“It feels pretty good,” said Eric Galindo, a member of the Condors. “I’ve been practicing a lot and did my best. We played really well and did a good job.”
Do-It-All Dad, Officer
Jaime Bermudez started his day by taking part in the Opening Ceremony, and by the close he was celebrating his team’s gold medal.
The 44-year-old doubles as a correctional officer in the area and, in full uniform, he delivered the ceremonial puck drop prior to the competition. By his side was his daughter, Joselyn, who plays on the floor hockey team he coaches.
Then, he quickly changed into his Special Olympics gear and guided his team to a memorable day.
While Jaime has been coaching for three years, he’s been volunteering in Kern County for about a decade. The region was in need of coaches and he gladly jumped in.
“It’s fun and we have a good time,” he said. “I’m happy when I see them do something, and they know they did it, and they get excited – regardless, if they win or lose.”
Notes Around the Games
-Fellow Kern County coach Mike Higgins was presented with the floor hockey coach of the season award during Opening Ceremony.
“I was shocked I got it,” he said. “There’s a lot of good coaches out here. It means a lot.”
-Two members of the Los Angeles Kings ice crew, Rene Gonzalez and Keegan Ewing, attended as part of the athlete festival. The station had games for the athletes, as well as a raffle drawing for two tickets to the Kings’ game against the San Jose Sharks on March 21.
The pair enjoyed the festivities and the effort put forth by the athletes.
“I think what inspires people with Special Olympics is the fact [the athletes] have so much enthusiasm and so much drive,” Keegan said.
Added Rene: “What I’ve seen is the raw emotion from all the athletes. There’s nothing like seeing them when they succeed. … You see the passion that they bring to it and it’s absolutely amazing.”
The raffle drawing winner was Kyla Terra, the sister of a Santa Clarita athlete who was on hand to cheer her brother.
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed 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.