Special Olympics teams shine in state competition

Last updated: June 11. 2014 6:14PM - 771 Views
By Keith Strange kstrange@civitasmedia.com

Surry County's Special Olympics softball team, the Yellowjackets, brought home gold earlier this month in the North Carolina State Games.
Surry County's Special Olympics softball team, the Yellowjackets, brought home gold earlier this month in the North Carolina State Games.
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The Surry County Special Olympics softball and skills teams hit a home run at the state games this year, Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White announced this week.

Once again this year, the county’s softball team brought home the gold medal, tallying two wins in two years, White said.

He noted, however, that such perfection doesn’t come without perspiration.

“We’re really proud of the fact that they’re the two-time gold medal winners in the state,” he said. “They work really hard and practice weekly at Fisher River Park during the season and all that hard work is paying off. They’re becoming a force to be reckoned with.”

During the state games, held May 30 to June 1 in Raleigh, the softball team beat Mecklenburg County’s team 11-7. They followed that up with an 8-2 win over Wake County and clinched a nail-biter in a second game against Wake County, winning 12-10.

White said any softball fan would have been on the edge of their seat during the gold-medal game.

“It was a true championship game,” he said. “It was really close but we managed to pull it out.”

During the team’s opening game, the county’s Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, Calvin Dutton, hit an over-the-fence home run, driving three runners home, White noted.

The county’s skills team also brought home medals in individual competition, according to Lisa Watts, who coaches the team with her husband Mark.

“Our skills program involves participating in various softball-related skills like hitting off a tee and running bases,” Watts said.

Skills team members Jared Watts, Sammy Epperson and Annette Emry brought home gold medals at the state event, while James Beck and Veronica Sellars received silver medals, and Dale Beck brought home bronze.

For their coach, watching the team compete was an exercise in pride.

“They did super great,” Watts said. “We were really proud of them because the skills event is based on scores and time. Every one of our team brought home medals, and they represented Surry County very well.”

Softball team coach Frances Early said her team represented the county well during the state games.

“It was just awesome,” she said. “The team has grown a lot in their abilities, and although we lost two players this year we gained three and they just caught right on.

“They made Surry County proud,” Early added. “They told me right after the championship game that they did it for me.

“I told them no. They did it for Surry County.”

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.

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