Clinton Ho and Caleb Wacholtz, from right in front row, surrounded by their fellow Special Olympians, are heading to the BC Winter Games in Mission this week to compete in Special Olympics basketball.
For the first time ever, Special Olympics basketball is going to be part of the BC Winter Games – and two Terrace athletes are teaming up with six athletes from Prince Rupert to make the trek to Mission this week.
“Special Olympians have been part of the BC Summer Games for many years in athletics and swimming,” said Kelly Mann, President and CEO of the BC Games Society.
So it was only natural for that partnership to expand into the Winter Games. When Special Olympics British Columbia proposed including basketball for the first time in 2014 “we agreed that it would be a great addition to the sport line up,” she said. “These athletes have trained and practised their skills for the opportunity to represent their zone at the Games and we look forward to seeing the competition.”
Clinton Ho and Caleb Wacholtz, the two Terrace athletes heading to the games Feb. 20 to 23, practise every week with their Terrace teammates and coaches at Veritas gym, but the entire northwest zone team won’t practise together until they get to the games.
But that doesn’t worry the coaches, Chris Dale, who isn’t able to travel to the games, and assistant coach Gerald Caouette, who will travel with assistant coach Ken Beddie and head coach Bob Jongewaard from Masset.
“They’ve practised a long time with our club,” said Cahoutte, of Ho and Wacholtz.
They’re experienced with provincial events and should gel with the Prince Rupert players nicely – the teams have played against each other in the past, so there is some familiarity between the squads.
Although, for a city known for its basketball, this is only Prince Rupert’s second year with a Special Olympics basketball team.
“They’re really good, too,” said Dale, of the Prince Rupert team. “I think they’ll do pretty good in Mission. There are two or three guys on the team that could easily play main stream basketball.”
The team isn’t sure what to expect when they get to Mission, as it’s the first year this event is included in the BC Winter Games, but they’re looking forward to it and anticipate a fun time, said Cahoutte.
The team is travelling today, and will play games through the weekend.