By Katy Granath Posted December 17, 2008
Five of Lowry High School’s athletes recently competed in the State Special Olympics in Reno, Nevada. Stevie MacDonald, Jovi Garcia, Cody White, Mark Langston, and Summer Watkins make up the Winnemucca Strikers, the first Special Olympics team from Lowry in over 12 years.
In order to qualify for the state competition, all five athletes competed in 12 games locally. Coaches Leslie Molina and Sarah Renobaker worked with the athletes during and after school to prepare for the Olympics in Reno. Although Lowry’s athletes only competed in the Bowling Tournament this year, Molina plans to add track this spring and basketball next year. This year the Strikers qualified for state. Next time “we’re hoping for nationals,” said Molina.
The Special Olympics consists of several levels; if teams qualify, they can advance from state competition to nationals. At the National Games in 2006, 3,000 athletes competed from all 50 states, where the top three teams proceeded to the 2007 World Games. The next summer World Games are set for 2011 in Athens, Greece, where thousands of athletes are expected from all over the world. These Olympics allow those with special needs to cultivate physical and social skills, as well as boost self-esteem.
The Winnemucca Strikers and their coaches found the state competition to be an exciting experience. Watkins, who placed 4th in the singles competition and 3rd in the doubles, recalled receiving her medals as her favorite moment.
“As a coach, it was probably the most rewarding experience of my life, “ Molina smiled, “it was nice for our kids to have something just for them.”
In the singles competition, White, Garcia, and MacDonald each took 3rd place within their respective divisions. During the doubles competition, Langston won 5th place, MacDonald placed 3rd, and Garcia took 2nd.