News Article Details

New Special Olympics team has a lot of familiar faces

Aberdeen American News - 2/23/2019

Feb. 23-- Feb. 23--While the Hub City Express is a new Special Olympic team in Aberdeen, many of the team members know each other well -- there's a core group that's been playing together since middle school.

When head coach Missy Hill took a new job this fall -- she was teaching special education at Simmons Middle School and is now teaching special education in Groton -- she lost her position as the Aberdeen School District Special Olympic coach.

Hill was excited to jump right back in to coaching with the new team-- not coaching Special Olympics was something she knew she was going to miss in her new job in Groton.

"I'm pretty passionate about it, so it was an easy (decision)," Hill said.

Through the parent group, the team found its basketball practice space -- Calvary Baptist Church in Aberdeen, Hill said. There's a room off the side of the gymnasium where the parents can visit and take care of any paperwork that needs to be done.

"All the parents are really involved," Hill said. "Lots of fundraising -- getting started you have to start with all new uniforms and all new equipment and travel and food and all those expenses that go with having a team, but parents have worked really hard to make it really successful."

They're quick to take on tasks, Hill said.

Many of the team members played various sports for the Central High School team but have graduated from school and aren't eligible to play for other teams in Aberdeen. The only team member still in high school is from Groton, Hill said.

The team is having fun breaking away from blue and gold, Hill said.

"We've all wore blue and gold for so long," Hill said, referencing the Aberdeen School District's colors.

Team t-shirts come in all the colors of the rainbow, and each sport's uniform has a different color scheme.

One of the older team members, Victor Weigel, 27, is the de facto team leader.

"We've got a coach on the sideline, but I feel like I'm the coach on the court -- to help people get better," Weigel said.

He was a senior in high school when many of the other team members were just starting Special Olympics in middle school.

"I haven't been in it in six years, so I'm glad to be back," Weigel said.

In addition to being on the basketball team, Skylar Pagel, 19, said he's participating bowling and track, but his favorite is basketball.

"I'm good at dribbling the ball," Pagel said. "And passing it around, instead of just shooting it."

Hub City Express competed as a team in the state bowling tournament last fall. They start swimming in March, track and field is next and bocce -- lawn bowling -- is in the fall, Hill said. Team members can pick which sports they want to participate in.

Right now, the team is prepping for the upcoming state basketball tournament in Mitchell at the end of March.

"Come support us," Pagel said. "Watch us at state in Mitchell."

Follow @kgrandstrandAAN on Twitter.


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