More than 800 athletes brought their competitive drive to the first day of the 2019 Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games on Saturday in Fountain Valley. The golf competition was hosted at the David L. Baker Golf Course while soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball took place at the nearby Fountain Valley Recreation Center and Sports Park.
Tennis was the lone sport to award medals on Day 1, with singles action wrapping up. All competitions will resume at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, including the start of doubles tennis.
This year’s Fall Games featured a generous perk for the athletes provided by Finish Line.
The athletic apparel company provided hundreds of pairs of shoes to athletes who completed at least three of the five Healthy Athletes screenings—Fit Feet, FUNFitness, Health Promotions, Healthy Hearing and Special Smiles. In addition, SOSC received a $10,000 grant through the giveaway.
“We have been an eight-year national partner and sponsor of Special Olympics in the United States. We have turned our partnership into the mission of getting proper fitting sneakers on athletes’ feet,” said Sara McInerney, manager of the Finish Line Youth Foundation.
“We noticed there was an issue in the Special Olympics (athlete) population of them coming in with the wrong size shoe, too big or too small. We know there’s various obstacles for that. … You need that 1-on-1 attention and that’s hard for athletes to get sometimes. So we saw this need and decided to capitalize on our employees’ expertise, as well as our premium product. So it’s bringing together both worlds.”
During Opening Ceremonies, SOSC presented Coach of the Season awards to Rob Windham (golf, Orange County), Elizabeth Villa (soccer, Santa Clarita & Tri-Valley), James Saunders (softball, Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley), Liz Frech (tennis, Santa Barbara County) and Bob Kinzel (volleyball, Inland Empire).
Photos by volunteer photographer Jason Refuerzo
Day 1 Competitions
On the links, golfers competed in two skill levels of competition and completed 9 holes of action. The levels were divided into Level 2 alternate shot team play, Level 4 individual stroke play and Level 4 co-ed individual stroke play.
In all, the athletes were grouped into five sets of individual play foursomes (20 golfers) and another five sets of alternate shot team foursomes (20 golfers and 20 Unified partner golfers).
All golfers will take their Day 1 scores into Sunday, which will feature another 9 holes to determine the medalists.
Nineteen soccer teams were split into five color-coded divisions. The Downey Rockets, Pasadena Ducks White and Santa Barbara United occupied the Turquoise Division and played two matches apiece, while the other four divisions were filled with four teams and played three matches apiece.
On Day 2, the Turquoise Division will be settled in three matches (9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon), with each team competing twice to determine the gold, silver and bronze medals.
The other four divisions will move into a bracket seeded 1 through 4, with gold and bronze medal matches starting at 11 a.m. in the Black and Gray divisions and at noon for the Blue and Red divisions.
The softball competition was split into six divisions that borrowed the names of the Major League Baseball alignment.
The NL Central, featuring the Kern County Krushers, Lompoc Braves and Ventura Simi Valley Stars, was the lone three-team division. The other five divisions included four teams apiece.
Like the soccer format, the three-team NL Central will be decided Sunday in three games (10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.), with medal ceremonies to follow.
The remaining five divisions will start Day 2 with brackets seeded 1-4 based upon the previous day’s results. The AL Central and AL West’s gold and bronze medal games are scheduled on separate fields at 11:30 a.m.; the AL East and NL East’s gold and bronze medals games will be played at 12:45 p.m.; and the NL West gold medal game will be played at 11:30 a.m. followed by the bronze medal game at 12:45 p.m.
Tennis and Volleyball
Tennis and volleyball Day 1 and Day 2 information will be posted when made available.
Updates will be made as they become available throughout the weekend.