Village Northwest Panthers Bring Home Silver Medals From North America Softball Invitational
Date posted - September 28, 2012
Thirty-three teams from across the United States as well as teams from Canada, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico took to the fields of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City and Bickham Field in Edmond for the 2012 Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational Tournament.
The Village Northwest Unlimited Panthers of Sheldon competed and won silver medals in Division 5 play. “Our athletes were honored to represent the state of Iowa at this national tournament,” said Coach Deb Middle. “They played hard and had fun while winning silver medals.”
With two games on Saturday the Panthers beat Mississippi 15 to 6. They lost to North Carolina 16 to 5. Sunday’s games were held at Bickham Park and included a win against Mississippi 22-17 and a loss to North Carolina 28-6.
The event included three days of competition beginning on September 21 with the medal rounds held at ASA and Bickham Park on Sunday, September 23.
Middle said that thanks to the support of Village Northwest, the community of Sheldon and family and friends of the Village, the team was able to experience a Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox baseball game. “They even made the Jumbo Tron with a close up of the team with their red national T-shirts on, and the announcer made a statement about the team and their trip to Nationals,” said Middle.
Other highlights included a tour of Bricktown in Oklahoma City, the National Memorial Museum (they invited family members to join on this excursion) and All Star Sports Entertainment in Wichita.
Participating teams represented 16 states including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Canada (Ontario). Both traditional Special Olympics teams and Unified Sports teams (people with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team) were represented at the tournament.
The event kicked off with the official Opening Ceremony at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex on Friday, featuring a parade of athletes, as well as a series of special guests including Master of Ceremonies and USA Softball’s Olympic Gold Medalist Amanda Freed, and Gymnastics legend and Olympics Gold Medalist Bart Conner. Conner, who serves as vice-chair of Special Olympics’ global Board of Directors, paid tribute to Special Olympics Founder, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in honor of September 22 being global Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. The night was capped off by the passing of the Special Olympics torch, lighting of the cauldron and a fireworks celebration.
2004 USA Olympic softball gold medalist and longtime Special Olympics supporter Amanda Freed was in attendance throughout the weekend. Freed shared why Special Olympics resonates with her: “It’s inspiring to see them compete because they represent what sports meant for me at it’s most authentic level – when it’s just fun, when you go out their with your friends and compete hard, but above all, have a great time,” adding, “I know how hard they’ve trained to get here and it’s great to see them have the opportunity to showcase their talents.”
Each of the 33 competing teams qualified for the September event through a series of tournaments throughout the summer. The Tournament is made possible by Special Olympics Oklahoma, Moose International, ASA Softball, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Coca-Cola.
Full results, photos, news and on demand video of select games from the Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational Tournament are available at www.specialolympics.org/sonasit.
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