Sunday, November 13, 2011

Special Days and Gold Medals...

Last weekend we had the privilege of watching Jared compete in the Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament.  Over the years Jared has been an on-again, off-again athlete - more off than on most years.  His decision to participate has always been tied to what particular sports were being offered (horseback riding, bowling, etc.).  As various sports have come and gone so has his interest. 

Jared has not been a fan of team sports since he was about 8 years old.  When we lived in California Jared participated in baseball, and learned how to play the game.  When we moved to Montana the only available option for him was the Challenger League that included kids of all ages.  Jared was up to bat, and unlike the rest of the team he had been educated on the rules of the game.  He proceeded to hit the ball and run to 1st base, where he stopped and waited for the next batter.  The next batter was a 16-year old young man with Down syndrome who towered over Jared and weighed about three times as much.  This young man proceeded to attempt to hit the ball and began to run to 1st base.  As Jared noticed that this man was running he began to make his way to 2nd base.  Half way to 2nd base this young man literally ran over Jared as he hadn't stopped at 1st.  From head to toe Jared was scratched and bruised and bleeding...and has never had any interest in playing on a team since. I can't say I blame him!

That being said, Jared participating in the State Basketball Tournament was quite a feat unto itself.  This year, for the first time, his team offered what they called Individual Skills.  Our fine city played host to over 700 athletes from around the state, and of those athletes 36 competed in Skills; three of those 36 were from Jared's team, the Great Falls Lions.  This was the first time that Jared had ever participated in basketball. 

We had a fantastic weekend!  It began Thursday night, November 3rd, with opening ceremonies. 

We were Footloose!  Needless to say, we had fun!
Friday was competition day - time to get serious!
Coach Jerry Sept, Kristen Davies, Ryan Sept, and Jared
The three Lions competed, individually, in three areas of basketball skills. 
Shooting hoops


And dribbling...
Jared began practicing his skills eight weeks before the competition.  His coach noted that when he started this adventure he was dribbling in just over 10 the competition he completed his dribbling in 4.4 seconds.  Pretty darn impressive!  

Saturday was all about gold! All three Lions were awarded Gold Medals for their efforts...doesn't matter that all 36 Individual Skills athletes received gold medals - they were awarded based on their individual skills!

The gold medalists!
The funny thing is that both of the boys (Jared and Ryan) had a tied score!  They both received 85 out of 112 points.  Teammates who practiced together week after week and they tied! Someone mentioned that they'd never seen that happen before in many years in Special O!  There was also a record breaker, the highest score ever was given to an athlete during the competition - the gentleman scored 96.  Pretty impressive!  

It was a great weekend and we're already looking forward to doing it again next year!

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