Below are the names of the Storm Special Olympics athletes who competed in the Special Olympics State Basketball and Cheerleading Competition in Hays this past weekend. They were divided up into four teams and the cheerleading squad.
Jonathan Rommel, Jr.
HAYS — There was more basketball action than that going on during the national collegiate basketball tourney this past weekend. In Hays. thousands swarmed to the city for the 2016 Kansas Special Olympics State Basketball and Cheerleading Competition.
“You know it’s time for Special Olympics in Hays,” Hays Mayor Eber Phelps said during the opening ceremony Thursday night in a packed Fort Hays State University Gross Memorial Coliseum. “You can feel the the excitement.”
The annual tourney is a big deal for the city, he said “It’s a sense of pride for us.”
The athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers make the city their home for the weekend, and that gives local residents a warm feeling.
“If you attend Special Olympics, you will be inspired,” Phelps said. “This is true sportsmanship.”
According to Special Olympics Kansas President/Chief Executive Officer Chris Hahn, the tournament included 36 teams with over a thousand athletes and hundreds coaches.
The participants took part in either the cheer competition or the 180-plus basketball games that spanned the three-days in multiple venues across the city. It also took hundreds of volunteers, over 45 volunteers every 45, minutes to make it happen.
The opening ceremony also featured an entry parade of all the athletes, performance by local Hays dance students, the lighting of the torch and the reading/recitation of the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
As for the contests, the Storm’s cheer squad and all four of the roundball teams all came home with awards.
The cheerleading teams, coached by Amanda Fellers and Bri Saunders, earned a gold and a silver medal.
Storm basketball teams are divided into squads based on skill levels from level four all the way up to fast break.
The level four team (the Hurricanes), coached by Brenda Unrein, Christina Armstrong and Regina Millenheft, took first in their bracket and brought home the gold with a 2-1 record.
The lower level three team (the Thunder), coached by Dale Hogg and Todd Turner, took second place and brought home silver medals, posting a 2-1 record.
The upper level three team (the Tornado), coached by Boe Levingston, went 3-0 and came in first with the gold.
The level two fast-break team (the Lightening), coached by Mike Dawes, went 2-1 and took second and claimed silver medals.
In addition to the basketball games, several of the Storm athletes took part in a skills competition (including dribbling and shooting). Many of the competitors brought home medals and ribbons from these events as well.