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Going for gold

LISD athletes win in Special Olympics

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LISD Special Olympics athletes of all ages and abilities embraced each other as they entered the bowling alley on August 26. The sound of pins clashing rang through the building as the bowlers rolled their balls down the lanes.

College student Heather Throckmorton picked up her ball and approached her lane. She released her ball and held her breath as it made its way towards the pins. The ball knocked down every single pin, scoring her a strike. Throckmorton turned around and threw up her arms in celebration before high fiving her teammates, who were clapping and cheering for her.

In early July some of these bowlers got to show off their athletic skills in another sport in a much bigger arena — the 2018 Special Olympics games. The LISD basketball team traveled to Seattle, Washington for this competition.

The athletes on the team were Kimberly Corkran, Rachel Elder, Stacey Hawkins, Liane Matzenbach, Staci Mercer, Alandria Rivera, Heather Throckmorton, Mariah Toney, Sarah Wickett and Kellie Wickett. The coaches were Kae Mercer, Lorraine Throckmorton and Amanda Wickett.

The athletes raised money for about five months so they could go. Each athlete and coach had to raise $800, which they did through various fundraising activities and by collecting donations from family and friends.

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When they were there, the athletes enjoyed visiting tourist attractions like the Space Needle and Husky Stadium, as well as the Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies, an event that marked the start of the games.

Friends and family waited back at home in anticipation for the LISD athletes to come onto their television screens, waving and high fiving each other as they entered Husky Stadium.

The women’s basketball team played five games against Washington, Kansas and Southern California over the course of four days in the Seattle Redhawks basketball stadium and the Alaska Airlines Arena. The girls, ages 18-38, went undefeated in the tournament, earning them the gold medal.

Coach Lorraine Throckmorton, a mother of one of the players, said that it was an awesome experience

“It was so exciting to see the girls and see their excitement and see them play,” Throckmorton said.

Alandria Rivera is a graduate of Lewisville High School and has been an athlete in the program for around five years. She said this trip was her favorite memory in the program.

“It was fun because I got to be with my team and coaches,” said Rivera.

The trip provided more than the Olympic experience for the athletes. A few athletes had never flown on a plane before they traveled to Seattle. The athletes also got a taste of college life while staying on the University of Washington campus.

The LISD Special Olympics program began 36 years ago when a handful of teachers at DeLay Middle School decided to create a program that allowed their special needs students to compete in sports. Today, over 250 LISD athletes are involved in a wide variety of sports such as bowling, gymnastics, softball and swimming.

The program gives these athletes a chance to be in the community as well as bringing awareness to what the athletes are capable of. It also helps the athletes’ parents meet each other and share their experiences.

After his 36 years with the program, Domer considers seeing how hard the athletes work and watching them enjoy themselves as the most rewarding parts of his job.

“Our athletes try so hard,” Domer said. “[I love] just seeing the smiles on their faces and the enjoyment they have just being around each other, not just the competition.”

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Jim Domer, the Head of Delegation for the LISD Special Olympics, has been involved with the program since it began, as he was an adapted PE coach at DeLay Middle School when it was created.

“[Domer] is the best coach,” Nina Clemens, a long-time athlete, said.

Domer gets promotions for the athletes, organizes the use of facilities, hires and trains coaches and works between both LISD and the Special Olympics to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

“LISD Special Olympics is a big family,” Domer said.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Going for gold”

  1. Janet on September 9th, 2018 8:14 pm

    Excellent article about some VERY dedicated student-athletes and their coaches. What a wonderful experience for these athletes-memories that will last a lifetime!!

    Great job, Madi!!!

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