Athletes Compete in Special Olympics Basketball Tournament

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Special Olympics Virginia hosted a basketball game on Sunday Special Olympics Virginia hosted a basketball game on Sunday
Players ranged in age from 8-70s Players ranged in age from 8-70s

While hundreds of athletes are competing for Olympic gold in South Korea, some local athletes are taking part in a unique Olympics of their own here in central Virginia.

Special Olympics Virginia held its regional basketball tournament on Sunday, February 11, at Albemarle High School with over 200 participants from across central Virginia competing to make it to the next level.

“This regional basketball tournament has been held over 25 years here at Albemarle High School, and it is a popular event with our local athletes and regional athletes here,” says Maureen Oswald, the games director for Special Olympics Virginia.

Age was not a factor at the day’s competition. Participants ranged in age from eight to some in their 70s.

“We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing,” says Troy Evans, an ambassador with Special Olympics.

“I cheer more for them than I do basketball - college basketball or pro,” says Pam Moses, a spectator. “These guys just, they're awesome, they're really awesome.”

Moses says watching these athletes play is something she lives for.

“It touches a spot in you that you don't realize,” says Moses.

Organizers say this event is unique because of its longevity as a successful regional tournament and the support of its volunteers.

“Everybody gets to compete at the level that they can, so there are some athletes who maybe don't get the gist of offense and defense, so they're competing today in skills,” says Oswald.

Game officials say what makes this event so special is that you can play regardless of whether or not you have an intellectual disability.

“It has evolved from just sports training to some intense competition, some of those full court competitions that's going on today could rival some JV and varsity high schools,” says Oswald.

Officials add that this event wouldn't be possible without the countless volunteers that make sure the event happens each year.

If you would like to give your time to helping Special Olympics Virginia, you can visit its website to sign up.