Vernon’s W.L. Seaton Secondary School played host to a Special Olympics basketball tournament Saturday, March 4.
The tournament featured two teams from Kelowna, two from Kamloops and the Vernon hosts. It was a long-awaited return to the court, as this was the first Special Olympics tournament in Vernon since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vernon assistant coach Susan Morris said having fun is the name of the game.
“The excitement around this tournament has been awesome,” Morris said.
The Vernon basketball team is made up of 12 athletes of all ages and skills. The youngest athlete is 15 and the oldest is 57.
The Vernon team has been practicing since January every Monday night.
Morris said the tournament came together quickly in the last few weeks, and the athletes are thrilled to take part.
The Special Olympics runs all over the world, getting people with special needs and disabilities together to play sport, compete against each other, and have fun.
“There are many other sports we offer in Vernon: golf, skiing, bocce, bowling, floor hockey, track and field, curling, softball and soccer,” Morris said. “I know how much it means to the athletes to have coaches to keep these sports going.”
On the subject of keeping the sports going, Special Olympics Vernon is looking for more volunteers to get involved. Specifically, they still need volunteers for softball and soccer as well as a head coach for track and field.
Anna Hirschkorn is a basketball volunteer who hasn’t missed a Monday practice, where she helps run drills. She said she got involved after her brother was a Special Olympics coach for five years.
“I really wanted to just give back to the community, and also I learn a lot of things from volunteering. I learn a lot of skills and I just get to meet so many different personalities,” she said. “I really like socializing with the athletes and just seeing that they really enjoy it, it makes me really happy.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.