Spe­cial Olympians in­spire new play­ers

Bas­ket­ball qual­i­fier at­tracts 21 schools to St. Peter’s in city

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Sports Di­rec­tor Mike.Davies @pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Spe­cial Olympics sports con­tinue to grow in Peter­bor­ough high schools.

Host­ing the On­tario School Cham­pi­onships, which brought more than 1,000 ath­letes to Peter­bor­ough in May, helped bring fur­ther aware­ness to area schools of the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able.

When Ernie Elle­ment started a Spe­cial Olympics pro­gram at St. Peter’s four years ago there were two to three schools par­tic­i­pat­ing in tour­na­ments. On Fri­day, there were 21 teams from eight area schools com­pet­ing in a bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment serv­ing as a qual­i­fier for the 2019 Spe­cial Olympics World Youth Games May 14-17 in Toronto.

More than 100 ath­letes com­peted on Fri­day from Adam Scott, Crest­wood, Ken­ner, Holy Cross, St. Peter’s, Camp­bell­ford Dis­trict, St. Thomas Aquinas from Lindsay and Brighton.

“We’ve come a long way to get all these peo­ple to­gether,” said Elle­ment. “We have to keep them to­gether.”

He says most of the ath­letes are just ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing to Toronto and vis­it­ing things like the CN Tower let alone play games.

“I’m sure once ev­ery­one gets to the open­ing cer­e­monies and they look around and see 2,500 ath­letes it will hit them then,” he said.

Adam Scott Col­le­giate has al­ready qual­i­fied a soc­cer team for the World Games and had four Lions bas­ket­ball teams vy­ing for an­other berth.

“Ev­ery­one is to­tally ex­cited,” said Adam Scott coach Karen Ste­wart. “Last year when we went to provin­cials the whole school lined up and clapped us out on the way. It was won­der­ful. The kids, and my­self, were grin­ning from ear to ear. They can’t wait to go.”

Karsten Burke plays both soc­cer and bas­ket­ball for Adam Scott. “I’m just happy to com­pete,” said Burke. “I love sports and hav­ing fun. (The World Games) will be in­tense, hard and I’m just ready to go out and play and be all I can be.”

Holy Cross Hur­ri­canes coach Loretta Barnes didn’t even know the re­sults of her team’s games. Their fo­cus, she said, is on fun and par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“This is ev­ery­thing to them,” said Barnes. “In this sport es­pe­cially, it doesn’t mat­ter what the score­board says. They cel­e­brate no mat­ter what’s go­ing on and love what they do. They’re get­ting some great ex­er­cise and com­pan­ion­ship.”

“See­ing my friends,” was Holy Cross player Bri­anna DeNoble’s favourite part about play­ing bas­ket­ball.

“It’s so much fun,” said St. Peter’s player Matthew Wil­son. “I have to win for my school.”

“It’s re­ally grown a lot,” said Saints coach Karen Scott. “It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for all of them and it’s re­ally ex­panded.

“(The pro­vin­cial games) cer­tainly had a role in it but I think the schools are just start­ing to hear about it more. There is more talk about it and par­ents are talk­ing about it. They want their chil­dren to play. It’s great and Mr. Elle­ment does a ter­rific job net­work­ing.”

Elle­ment said he’ll sub­mit all the re­sults to Spe­cial Olympics On­tario and they may learn as early as next week if any lo­cal schools will be ac­cepted to the World Games for bas­ket­ball.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

St. Peter's Saints' Hannah Goode cel­e­brates her bas­ket with team­mate Ja­cob Louns­bury against Holy Cross Hur­ri­canes on Fri­day at St. Peter's Catholic Sec­ondary School.

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