The 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games were an extraordinary experience for many Canadian athletes, with great performances by all the athletes and many personal bests. One athlete in particular, Bryce Schaufelberger, a local self-advocate, put forward a performance that helped his team take home a gold in soccer.
Schaufelberger has been playing soccer in the Special Olympics since 1991, and has won several medals, most notably a gold in Shanghai 2007, and a bronze in Greece 2011. These experiences have been very important to him.
“Special Olympics are important because athletes can meet peers competing from across the country and the world,” Schaufelberger said. “It gives you exercise and keeps you active. More importantly, it gives you hope, dreams and self-esteem. Winning gives you the confidence and the power to succeed in life.”
The journey of qualification to represent BC in the Games in early July began in 2012 in Mission, Schaufelberger’s home town. It was there that his team was named Team BC after scoring the most amount of goals.
Schaufelberger said that just being at the Special Olympics Canada Games was an amazing experience, including “just being there with [my] peers.” Working for the same goal, dancing at the closing ceremony and the launch of the flame at the opening ceremonies were definitely some of his highlights. But winning a gold medal was surely the cherry on top.
“Scoring goals for my team and helping in a leadership role are some of my favourite parts of playing in the Special Olympics,” says Schaufelberger. “My teammates and coaches are wonderful to be around. I love the excitement of working with them towards victory.”
He knows these teammates and coaches are the very reason Team BC succeeded at the Special Olympics Canada. His coaches, John Scholtes, Stuart Coates and Vince Astoria, and trainer, Eric Robinson, helped prepare the athletes both on the field and off. “They stuck with us through both our struggles and our happiness.”
The gold medal performance helps Team BC in their steps to wearing Team Canada colours and travelling to the 2015 Special Olympics in California. While the team has to wait to officially be named the national representative, Schaufelberger’s past performances on Team Canada allow him to have an idea of what to look forward to.
“It would be awesome to wear Team Canada colours. To represent your country with your teammates would be a privilege,” says Schaufelberger. “The spotlight that comes with being Team Canada is an experience that people live a lifetime to be able to achieve.”
You can view the soccer matches, including the gold-medal game, as well as the medal ceremony at the following links:
You can view some great photos from the entire games at this link: