Still basking in their tremendous success at the provincial championships this past summer, the Cowichan Valley’s Special Olympics athletes are preparing to start a new season of sports.
All the sports offered by Special Olympics B.C. in the Cowichan Valley start up in the first week of October, providing tremendous opportunities for the participants, who learn about interaction and competition, as well as developing new skills.
“In the words of one of our athletes, ‘Now I know where I belong,’” local coordinator Jean Scholefield said. “She had struggled all the way through high school, and when she got involved in Special Olympics, she realized that was where she was meant to be.”
The Cowichan Valley program has added bocce to its list of activities this year, the third new sport to be offered in the last three years. Also on the list are fivepin and tenpin bowling, rhythmic gymnastics, floor hockey, swimming, figure skating, soccer, softball, and track and field, as well as Active Start & FUNdamentals for Youth, and Club Fit.
It couldn’t be done without endless hours of work by coaches and other volunteers.
“Thanks to all the coaches and volunteers that put time in,” Scholefield said. “We couldn’t do it without them. We have really enthusiastic, dedicated coaches.”
The Cowichan Valley sent 22 athletes and seven coaches to the provincial championships in Kamloops in July, and every single competitor came home with at least one medal.
Amber Benedict won all-around gold in tenpin bowling and teamed with Kara Summer to take silver in pairs. Also on the lanes, Alanna Kay, Jenny Scholefield, Robbie Hall and Krista Grzybowski took team bronze in fivepin.
The four swimmers from the Cowichan Valley each earned two medals: Jason Smith won gold in the 25m freestyle and silver in the 25m backstroke, Debbie McPheators took silver in the 25m backstroke and the 25m breaststroke, Mark Skelton claimed silver in the 25m free and bronze in the 25m backstroke, and Mikyla Carlow raced to bronze in the 25m backstroke and the 100m individual medley.
Arreanna Thomas won gold in rhythmic gymnastics.
In softball, Julie Black was on the gold-medal-winning team, while Ian Elliott and April Cartwright both brought home bronze medals.
This was also the first time Cowichan has sent a complete team in any sport, and it paid off as the soccer team — Darian Tielemans, Duane Horsman, Chris Oldnall, Tawny Daw, Dakota Carlow, Zach Carlow, Matthew Carr and Andrew Martin — brought home the bronze medal.
Coaches for the Cowichan contingent included Dave Kohse, Izmet Barranco, Irene Lintner, Jean Scholefield, Amy Gibb, Cheryl Dodds and Alexandra Lothian.
Cowichan has also had five representatives picked for Team BC, who will attend nationals in Prince Edward Island next May. Swimmer Mikyla Carlow will be joined by bowlers Alanna Kay, Robbie Hall and Krista Grzybowski, with Jean Scholefield as coach.
This will be Scholefield’s first time going to nationals.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I’m excited the team earned the right to go.”