Local team brings home bronze

The Fort Frances Special Olympics softball team has seen an interesting season this summer.
They were coached by new volunteers Tara Albanese and Terry Higgins, who not only had to learn about the special qualities each player possesses, they also had to learn the game and the challenges of having practices.
Two of the main challenges faced by the coaches was trying to get enough players and volunteers out in order to be able to train for the regional competition, which was to be held in early July, and the weather.
There was a core group of athletes who showed up twice a week—rain or shine—and excelled beyond both coaches’ expectations.
However, when they went to regionals, the competing team had to back out, which was a great disappointment to the athletes and coaches. It looked like they would not be seeing a competition this season.
But both coaches agreed they would try to get the team a game this year.  So Tara contacted Special Olympics Manitoba, who welcomed the idea of putting together an inter-provincial tournament for the team to play in.
With the okay from the community co-coordinator, Connie Wood, assistance from the Ontario head office, and previous fundraising done by the athletes, the team was set to go to the tournament.
Days before the tournament, a few of the regular players informed the coaches that they would not be able to go to the tournament—leaving the team short.
But just when this seemed to be the end of the team’s dreams of competing, other local Special Olympics athletes, who had heard about their dilemma, stepped forward and volunteered to play with the team.
The team went to Winnipeg over the weekend and even though it was their first game of the season, and having new players who had not been able to practice with the team, they placed third in the round-robin style tournament against teams from Brandon, Winkler, and Winnipeg.
The Fort Frances team consisted of Amanda Beauregard, Ray Bedard, Chris Calder, Karen Erwin, Joyce Gosselin, Anita Hahkala, Shelly Haney, Keith Henderson, Jack McLeod, Gerald Nugent, Richard Ottertail, Arlan Scott, Danny Smith, Brad Wagner, and Harriet Wagner.
The head coaches were Tara and Terry, with Roz Calder and Gaby Hanzuk serving as assistant coaches.
Other players who were unable to attend the tournament were Jamie Dyson, Carrie Jolicouer, and Kody Mainville.
Anyone interested in learning more about how to participate in Special Olympics, or how to become a volunteer, contact Roz Calder 274-0884.

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