Golf Competitions Thriving at Special Olympics BCJuly 3, 2012
Richmond, British Columbia (British Columbia Golf)–British Columbia Golf and Special Olympics BC (SOBC) are concluding the three-part series featuring an in-depth look at their developing relationship and its impact on golf in the province. This final segment discusses the competitive opportunities open to SOBC athletes and their ability to provide athletes with intellectual disabilities the joy of achievement, build confidence, forge new friendships, and inspire those watching with their skills, dedication and sportsmanship.
In addition to year-round sports programming, SOBC offers opportunities for its athletes to compete at the regional, provincial, national and international level through a four-year competition cycle for summer and winter sports, golf being one of them.
Community programs offer local competitions each year and the ‘Games cycle’ adds excitement and further opportunities for the athletes who achieve the distinction of advancing through its levels and representing their province and their country.
“Competitions create opportunities for SOBC athletes to gain confidence by setting goals and experiencing that incredible sense of achievement through sport. They also provide important opportunities for athletes to make new friends, travel to new places and improve both their skills and their fitness,” said Shawn Fevens, SOBC Manager of Sport and Youth Development.
In the 2012 summer sport season, SOBC community programs around the province have been hosting Regional Qualifiers in the 11 SOBC summer sports, where athletes are competing for the chance to advance to the 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games. Set to be hosted in Langley next July, the 2013 Provincial Games will include golf for the second time. There, for the first time, SOBC athletes will compete for the opportunity to move on to the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in golf.
Debbie Pyne, Managing Director of Player Development at British Columbia Golf, feels providing SOBC’s competitive golfers an avenue to develop their skills is paramount for continuing the rapid expansion of Special Olympics golf in British Columbia.
“Having these opportunities for competition is vital to player development,” stated Pyne. “Providing this competitive outlet and having the goal of the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games attached to their success makes these qualifiers very important in their pursuit of personal excellence in golf.”
The SOBC athletes who qualify for the next National Summer Games will have the chance to compete in their home province for the right to represent Canada in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. The 2014 Special Olympics Canada Games will be hosted in Vancouver.
In 2012, the SOBC programs in 100 Mile House, Campbell River, the Sunshine Coast, Trail and Vernon have or will soon host regional golf qualifiers. Some of these community programs marked major milestones by hosting these competitions and the events were major successes for the athletes involved.
At the SOBC – Vernon regional qualifier, 24 athletes from seven different communities participated at Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club. The athletes ranged in age from 18 to 55 and showed both skills and tremendous sportsmanship, said Karen Truesdale, coordinator of the competition and SOBC – Vernon’s Head Coach for golf.
For some athletes, this regional qualifier was their first experience with any sort of golf competition, and they rose to the occasion with enthusiasm. Those players “were focused, but they were still having fun,” Truesdale said. “You could see that they were kind of geared up for this, it wasn’t just another golf game. They knew what they were out there trying to do.”
And while they were committed to competing, they also were keen to cheer each other on. “I saw lots of high-fives out on the greens,” Truesdale added.
Meanwhile, the athletes with more experience were keen on the idea of competing for the opportunity to advance to the 2013 SOBC Summer Games, and delivered some excellent performances. The top overall score of the day was three-over-par.
Truesdale, who is also an alpine skiing coach with SOBC – Vernon, is in her third year of coaching with the golf program. She has seen significant growth in athlete interest in competitions over that time. “I thought it would take us a lot longer to get to this level, where so many of them would be so interested in and enjoy the competition side. It’s wonderful, they’ve progressed so quickly,” she said.
With golf growing strong in the world of Special Olympics BC, with the first National Games appearance on the horizon and the support of British Columbia Golf helping to expand opportunities and strengthen program and competition quality, there’s excitement about all that is to come.
“We’re all looking forward to organizing more competitions in the future. We can really see the benefit of it,” Truesdale said. “It gives another focus to the sport, and definitely the opportunity to meet and socialize and compete with athletes from other Locals is a huge benefit.”
Pyne echoed this sentiment of excitement for the future.
“We are only at the beginning of this relationship between SOBC and British Columbia Golf. So far, our collaboration and commitment to communicate has grown in leaps and bounds. The only way to go with this relationship is to the next level.”
Individuals looking for the inspiring, joyful and life-changing experience of working with Special Olympics athletes are always welcome to join SOBC as volunteers. Contact Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604.737.3055 for further information.
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