For the 23rd year, Lorain County Community College and the 2018 Special Olympics of Ohio partnered together to host the 2018 Special Olympics North Section on the first weekend of March.
“It’s actually really important for the college to do stuff like this,” said Kathryn Orantek, the Special Olympics Chairperson. “It shows their commitment to community involvement and including people of all abilities.”
Much like March Madness, the winner of a 1-game series advances throughout the bracket in each separate division. There are five adult men’s, one women’s divisions and two school age division. The winners will go to Dover, OH for the State Finals on March 23-24.
There are 37 teams that participated in the tournament and a total of 18 games were played at LCCC. Most of the first round games did not take place on campus, but the championship games took place in either the fieldhouse or the gym.
The participants and coaches spend a lot of time preparing to be apart of the Special Olympics and they enjoyed being there.
“You can just look and see on their faces what it means to them,” Orantek said. “They are so excited to be here. They love the competition. They love the athleticism of it. As soon as they walk through the door, they are ready to go.”
She also said that the Special Olympics this year is about having fun and competing, along with interacting with other people.
“I think it is really good for the athletes to interact with each other and to show sportsmanship with each other, to build friendships, and just being able to socialize with people of all abilities. I think it is fantastic for them,” Orantek said.
“This is my first year being the chairperson and it’s been really meaningful to me,” she said. “The gentleman who did it before [John Dakes], stepped down to some work obligations and they asked me to take over and I was more than happy to. I volunteered in the past and it’s been fantastic. They have worked on this thing for a really long time and I was happy to step in and kind of cheer them on.”
The winners of the regional tournament are: the CCBDQ Rockets for Adult Open Division 1, Lorain Murray Ridge Raiders 1 for Division 2, Columbiana Comets for Division 3, Summit Warriors 2, Summit Warriors 3 for Division 3, Stark DD Divas for Women’s Division 1, and Richland Varsity for School Age Division 1.
A widely anticipated game, the Division 2 Regional Championship,between the Reigning Summit Warriors and Lorain Murray Ridge Raiders, which happened to be the last game of the regional tournament lived up to the hype with a nail-biting 49-46 victory for the Raiders with the stands full enough at one point of the game, people had to stand to watch the game.
Winning the championship is awesome. We have been getting at this for a long time,” head coach of the Raiders Russ Moye said after the game.
“Just trying to get these guys to trust our system we have in place for them and they finally bought into it. It showed today.”
During the game, at one point, both the Warriors and Raiders were playing zone defenses.
“There is a lot of things you have to know when you are playing a zone,” he said. “You have to rotate a lot. You have to talk and we are also like a team out there when we are playing a zone. It’s a lot [of work] when you’re trying to teach a team a zone, especially when you have guys with special disabilities.”