Special Olympics team brings home medals at fall tournament

Published 7:07 pm Thursday, November 22, 2018

To compete at the state level is a common dream among local athletes. To win at the state level is something even sweeter, and five local athletes got a taste of victory earlier this month at the Special Olympics North Carolina Fall Tournament.

Competing in bocce, Special Olympics Beaufort-Hyde County athletes Allen Brickhouse, Gary Newman, Greg Sadler and Lee Williamson brought home a gold medal in their division, while bocce singles player Bobby Windley earned a bronze medal in his competition.

While the Beaufort-Hyde team has been practicing various sports for years and participating in local and regional events, this year marks the third in which the group has sent athletes to the state level.

“We always take different athletes,” Beaufort-Hyde co-coordinator Kathy Newman said. “We have several that come out and practice with us and then the state gives us a quota of how many we can bring. This year, we took a team of four and a single. They were a really great group of guys, and they did very well.”

Newman and Eric Sedlacek serve as co-coordinators for the region. While Newman has been participating with her son Gary since 2000, Sedlacek is fairly new to the group.

Newman said the team has solid connections with exceptional children teachers throughout the Beaufort and Hyde school systems, as well as local group homes and services that cater to individuals with special needs. While these connections serve as a way to bring new athletes into the fold, Newman encourages anyone who has a loved one that wants to participate to contact the organization.

In addition to bocce at the fall tournament, the Beaufort-Hyde program also offers athletes a chance to compete in track and field, bowling, swimming and alpine skiing.

“Special Olympics has been very active, but our problem is we have just a core group, and we need more coaches,” Newman said. “If we can get more coaches, then we could offer more sports.”

For those interested in becoming involved in Special Olympics, either as an athlete or coach, the Beaufort-Hyde Coordinators can be reached at soncbeauforthyde@gmail.com. In order to participate, athletes must have a current physical and be registered with SONC. Coaches and volunteers must undergo a background check and participate in training. Full details on becoming involved can be found at www.sonc.net.