Volume 107, Issue 8 Sports
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Olympics beckons special athletes

By Kelsey Gelhar
posted May 26, 2011

Few believe their coaches when they say, �Winning isn�t everything,� but for the rare athletes that do, great joy can be found in the spirit of competition. Stephanie Polak, a CDS teacher at West, finds this to be true among the Special Olympics participants of the State Summer Games at UW-Stevens Point on June 9. The event brings a sense of excitement before, and also during, the contest.

�It�s a three day event. They leave on a Thursday and have an opening ceremony,� she said. �They usually have a bunch of games and dances for the kids too.�

These activities precede the events in power lifting, soccer, track and field, and aquatics. The athletes are presented with this opportunity in a variety of ways. At West, a more direct approach is taken.

�Once the students enter school, our agency manager and our athletic director, Brad Jodarski, have lots of communication with them,� said Polak. �There is a ton of information going home to the parents.�

Junior Hogan Delaruelle is one of the students who has made the best of this process. Delaruelle competed in the Area Athletics Meet on May 7 and will be heading to Stevens Point this June. Delaruelle elaborated on their training methods at practice before the tournaments.

�At practice, we practice our relays and throwing,� said Delaruelle.

The students share the stories of their efforts with their friends and classmates.

�The kids come to school and they�re excited about their sport. They get to share their experiences and accomplishments with us. Seeing them so proud of themselves makes me proud,� said Polak.

Lingering among this classmate camaraderie is passion for competition. Each individual establishes a personal goal that they wish to accomplish during their match. Delaruelle has his aims set high.

�My goal is to get a gold medal,� he said.

Polak understands that winning at these games means more than just taking home an award. Enjoying the time they share while competing is also important.

�Not only do I want them to have fun, I want to see them achieve the goals they set,� she said.

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