Special Olympics poly hockey team to play in tournament on Sunday
Senior Dillon Barr said he doesn’t look at the Special Olympics poly hockey team as anything different than simply kids who are looking to play a sport.
“These athletes are just as enthusiastic as anyone else playing sports; they want to meet people and play with them,” said Special Olympics area director Gail Huber.
The Mount Pleasant Special Olympics poly hockey team is made up of 11 players and they will be taking part in a floor hockey tournament at 9 a.m. Sunday in Alma.
The team consists of all sorts of different Special Olympic athletes, ranging from developmental disabilities to autistic teammates.
Barr started the rotaract club at Central Michigan University as a way to raise community service and awareness for helping out others.
“I just was looking for ways to give back to the community, so I got in touch with Special Olympics and started to get involved,” the Port Huron native said.
The team practices twice a week for two hours on Tuesday and Friday. They run conditioning drills and plays to prepare for these tournaments.
“We used to have to travel all over for them to be able to play, but now it’s becoming more local which is a lot more fun,” Huber said.
The teams have quick breaks in between the games and they keep the tournament running fast paced.
Barr said he played hockey in high school so he can relate to the players. He was the goalie so he has special insight in regards to guiding them in certain plays.
“The biggest challenge would be keeping patience. Coaching really helps you learn to keep patience in mind but it’s a great feeling afterward,” Barr said.
The money that the Special Olympics have to raise to put these events on is rather expensive, Barr said. Yhey need as many people to volunteer and help out as possible getting into the winter sports.
The state tournament is Nov. 17, and they also have a basketball and bowling league for the athletes.
“For me, giving back is fun, it’s not a job. It’s not just a resume builder, I enjoy it,” Barr said.
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