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Westman teams bring home the hardware

The Brandon Sun - 8/24/2018

Coming home with medals, two Westman teams left this year's Special Olympics among the greatest in the nation.

The Special Olympics, which took place in Antigonish, N.S., saw the Westman softball team walk away with bronze against Québec, and the soccer team come away with silver, also against Québec.

It wasn't the first time that both the Westman soccer and softball team have come away with medals at the Special Olympics. Back in 2014, the soccer team won gold and the softball team won silver.

These wins haven't been without hard work and effort, said Cyndi Price, one of the soccer team coaches.

Both teams have been working on their skills for more than a year.

"You have to work together on and off the field, and that's the same for the softball team," Price said. On the field, "the strength and conditioning coach really focused on our core strength and developing that core strength."

Their training regiment included three weekly sessions, with two being focused on soccer and one on strength and conditioning.

The team also worked together on maintaining healthy eating habits, Price said.

"Some of them really showed great interest in that, so that was good," she said. "Some of my athletes changed some sizes in their clothing, which was awesome, so I was pretty happy about that."

Off the field, the team had to learn to work together, with many hours spent in close quarters with one another.

The trip to Antigonish took the team more than 12 hours, leaving the airport in Winnipeg at 6 a.m. and arriving at their destination that evening.

For some of the athletes, this was the first time that they participated in a competition of this magnitude, and for one of her athletes, it was their first time on an airplane.

The coaches had to ensure that everyone stayed in good spirits throughout the trip so they were ready to take the field come game time, Price said.

"We had to keep them eating healthy, and making sure everybody stayed with us the Toronto airport and keeping people focused on what the task was," she said. The 12-person soccer team was made up of 11 players from Brandon and one from Souris. The ages of the players ranged from 24 all the way up to age 62.

The environment at the games, which took place Aug. 2-5, is something that makes it unique to play in, Price said.

"One of the great things about Special Olympics is everybody cheers for everybody else," she said.

The basketball team came out to support the soccer team during their final game, and so did the softball team.

"We were loud and proud for our team, for sure," she said.

To be able to play in the Special Olympics and walk away with medals was a really great experience, and one that they all earned, she said.

"For participating on a national stage to be representative of Manitoba, we had to win that right, both the softball team and the soccer team," Price said.

"That was a big honour, and you know for athletes with intellectual disabilities they really got to understand the greatness of it all."


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