A celebration of the 2019-20 sport season

Special Olympics Team BC 2020 speed skater Liz Ashton
The success of Special Olympics Team BC 2020 speed skater Liz Ashton is part of SOBC - Victoria's season highlights.

Around this time of the year, we typically mark the end of the sport season for many Special Olympics BC Locals, and that’s usually a time when everyone gets to celebrate the season’s many highlights, from athletic achievements like gaining and improving skills, personal bests, awards, and competition results, to successes in raising funds and awareness. We celebrate the dedication of the volunteers who put in countless hours to plan and coach programs, and the many wonderful intangible moments of connection, inclusion, and friendship created throughout the year by the Special Olympics family.

So that’s typically how the sport season comes to a close. Since we didn’t get to do that this year, under the unusual circumstances, we wanted to take a moment to send an enormous shoutout to the inspiring athletes, coaches, families, partners, and supporters in 55 communities throughout our province for all their successes in the regular part of the 2019-20 season. 

Athletes racked up so many accomplishments throughout their participation in their fall and winter sports. Local volunteers worked so hard to coach and plan these life-changing programs in up to 18 sports as well as youth programs. A number of Locals achieved exciting expansions into new sports, and others experienced new innovations such as growth from participants moving from SOBC’s in-school programs to the Local’s programs, and such as partners offering inclusive competition opportunities. Locals also led successful fundraising events and created essential support and awareness throughout their communities.

The planned 2020 Regional Qualifier season for summer sports was a significant source of excitement. Athletes were training hard, wanting to be able to give their best performances and hopefully qualify for Provincial Games. Volunteers worked so hard to plan these events. SOBC so appreciates everyone’s commitment and efforts. It is very unfortunate that the majority of the qualifiers had to be cancelled due to the broader health circumstances. 

But we know competition means so much to Special Olympics athletes, and we know everyone is committed to creating new opportunities when we can do so safely.

During the wind-down of this unique season, it’s been inspiring to see athletes and coaches working to stay active and support each other through the program pause. Athletes like SOBC – Trail’s Jake Miller and SOBC – Kelowna’s Roy Stephens have been taking on SOBC’s daily at-home workout and wellness challenges, and inspiring others to stay active! And so many coaches and volunteers have continued their dedication and support. Read SOBC – Victoria’s story below for the inspiring example of coaches Susan Simmons and Kyle Eriksen, who have been hosting nightly virtual training and connection sessions with athletes! 

Many thanks to all the SOBC Locals province-wide for all that you do, and big thanks and virtual hugs to the below Locals who shared some season highlights! Read on for more inspiration!

SOBC – Cowichan Valley

Here are two top moments from the 2019-20 season from Special Olympics BC – Cowichan Valley.

  • Cowichan Valley started basketball for the first time ever, with 15 athletes and three coaches. They were very excited and energized, and were looking forward to the Regional Qualifier in Port Alberni. While that competition unfortunately had to be cancelled, our athletes and coaches are looking forward to the next season.
  • We hosted our first Regional Qualifier for rhythmic gymnastics. It was an awesome experience to host the Region! A big thank you to everyone who made it a success.

Thanks to Local Coordinator Jean Scholefield for this account!

SOBC – Oceanside

In spite of our truncated year, Special Olympics BC – Oceanside does have some highlights to share for 2019-2020 that align well with our focus areas for this year. In chronological order they are:

  • A very successful Charity Golf Tournament in September 2019
  • Local functional testing program in October
  • Start of basketball program in January
  • Support local parade in May
  • Torch Run participation in June

Please click here for the full story and photos.

Thanks to Local Coordinator Barbara McLeod for this account!

SOBC – Port Alberni

  • Two bowling teams competed in the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay. SOBC – Port Alberni was well represented by the Team BC Alley Cats (Maurice Bernier, Richard Morgan, Dan Noble, Crystal Rousseau, and Sebastian Thomas), coached by Port Alberni’s Jennifer Knoll, and the Team BC Alley Brats (Ariel Gust, Cheyenne Jokinen, Dakota Tate, Tyler VanKooten, and Jade Vilandre), supported by Comox Valley coach Debbie McCooey and training coach Trudy Knoll of Port Alberni. The Alley Cats captured a gold medal, and the Alley Brats earned a strong sixth-place finish, while all 10 bowlers delivered tremendous performances in singles play.
  • Figure skaters Alexander Bell, Lucas Bell, Matthew MacDonald, and Kari Trott along with chaperone Mike Riddalls attended BC Winter Games in Fort St John in February. 
  • SOBC – Port Alberni hosted a successful bowling tournament in November where bowlers from Region 6 gathered with enthusiasm to visit friends and bowl.
  • SOBC – Port Alberni floor hockey players participated in the floor hockey tournament in Comox, coached by Barb VanZoeren, Mike Sanders, and Barb Giesbrecht.
  • Many athletes participated in Club Fit, with one athlete losing over 20 lbs as he started eating healthier to avoid feeling guilty when recording what he ate in his food journal. 
  • In January, Nancy Wilmot hosted her birthday party as a very successful and fun fundraiser for SOBC – Port Alberni, raising more than $4,000.
  • SOBC – Port Alberni had a great basketball program. Many enthusiastic volunteers were recruited to assist. We are looking forward to hosting a regional tournament In the future. 

Thanks to Volunteer Coordinator Anne Evans for this account!

SOBC – Powell River

The greatest moment that Special Olympics BC – Powell River had was when three of our floor hockey athletes and a coach went to the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder bay, Ontario. Tanya Norman, Andrew Swindlehurst, and Robert Lang with the help of training coach and Assistant Coach Tarra Tipton came home with a silver medal in the A Division.  

Thanks to athlete Tanya Norman for this account!

SOBC – Victoria 

Despite half of our sport season being cancelled due to COVID-19, Special Olympics BC – Victoria still had a number of memorable moments in 2019-2020. Please click here for the full story and photos.

Thanks to PR Coordinator Andrea Boyes for this account!