A total of 63 Special Olympics Southern California athletes and delegation members represented Team SOSC at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida from June 5 to June 12. It was an amazing week on the national stage, complete with determination, inspiration, and endless smiles.
Team SOSC came home with 15 gold medals, 16 silver medals, 13 bronze medals, and 28 ribbons!
The Case of the Missing Clubs
SOSC Golfer Matt Glumac arrived at USA Games in Orlando to discover his golf clubs were lost in transit. Doug Flutie, Jr., 2022 USA Games Club Champion Donor and of the Foundation for Autism, received word and stepped in to help. With the help from the PGA TOUR Superstore, the Foundation purchased Matthew a nearly identical set of clubs!
Matt’s motto is “never give up or quit.” Even though Matt golfed with a set of clubs he had never touched before, he brought home the silver medal. Matt says, “Special Olympics helps people with disabilities prove they can do more than what some people think.”
SOSC’s Unified Bocce Walks Off to Win Gold
The Unified Bocce Team competition was held on Friday, June 10. The day begun with pool play for all of the teams in Division X-8 to determine seeding for the medal rounds. The Murrietta Valley High School team (also known as Team SOSC) was focused and dialed in early, winning all three matches earning them the top seed in the division!
They faced one of the two Arizona teams in their semi-final match and were able to squeak out a tight match, winning 7-6, earning them a spot in the finals.
In the gold medal match, they faced another team from Arizona in front of a raucous crowd at the Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center. Team SOSC got off to a slow start and found themselves down 10-3 with about 15 minutes left to play (40 minute timed matches). They were able to claw their way back by putting up a much needed 4 points in a frame, leaving them down 10-7. They were able secure 1 point in the second to last frame, leaving them within striking distance being down 10-8.
As the final frame got underway, Seylah Stephens lead off the round and had a great roll, making Team Arizona have to put a few good rolls together. After three Team Arizona rolls, Team SOSC switched up their strategy and had one of their best players, Alejandro Aleman, roll second. Alejandro was able to get his ball inside of Team Arizona’s, making them have to put it closer with their final roll. Team Arizona did in fact get one bocce ball inside of Alejandro’s, closest to the pallino, leaving Team SOSC with the final two throws of the match as time was called. Due to the rules, Team SOSC was still able to finish out their throws.
Thalia Manzo stepped up and had a beautiful throw, but it actually hit Arizona’s ball closer to the pallino. Being down 10-8 and having to earn at least 2 points to send the match into extra time, Rio del Valle stepped up for his final throw. He had only one choice: knock Team Arizona’s ball out of the way and hope that at least two of Team SOSC’s balls remained closest to the pallino to earn two points. What happened next was stuff of legends. On the final roll of the match, Rio rolled his ball. It hit two of Team Arizona’s balls out of the way, miraculously leaving three of Team SOSC’s balls closest to the pallino. It earned Team SOSC three points to win the match 11-10. The crowd was both elated and stunned! It was one of the greatest bocce rolls in Special Olympics USA Games history. Humbled, relieved and excited – Team SOSC Unified Bocce walked away with the gold medal.