The Grant County Special Olympics team placed third at last weekend’s Special Olympics Oregon Summer Soccer Invitational in Portland.
Five Special Olympians and five unified partners make up the local team, led by head coach Deronda Lallatin. The competition held Friday and Saturday at the newly renovated Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers soccer team, had 200 athletes and unified partners and 100 coaches participating.
Lallatin said the event was fun for everyone, and the team also won the Sportsmanship Award.
“Our competition was really tough, but it was really fun too, and the other teams were encouraging,” she said.
Team member Caleb Madsen was goalie in the first game, and Jessie Stubbs filled in during the second game, sharing the goalie position with Madsen.
“Jessie has a lot of energy, but we let him take a break, and he blocked a lot of shots,” Lallatin said.
This is the first year the local team has competed in soccer, and the coach said they learned a lot in practice this season.
“The team did a really good job,” she said. “They worked hard and ran really hard.”
Local athletes participating were Madsen, Stubbs, Brian McKrola, Katie Shockley and Elizabeth Swarthout. Unified partners and assistant coaches included Laurie and Michael Shockley, Sarah Lallatin, David Gill and Jason Leighton.
Lallatin said Madsen is outgoing and let several people know he would be goalie and to cheer for their team.
Among the fans in the stands were Kim Joslin of Corvallis, a past local program coordinator and sister of McKrola, and friends of the team Laura Goldici and Dan Kilmer of the Portland area.
At practice on June 5, Stubbs said he was hopeful about the upcoming competition and doing well there.
“This team has heart,” he said. “That’s what this team is all about.”
The event was sponsored by Daimler Trucks North America, Portland Timbers and Thorns FC, Providence Health & Services, Les Schwab Tire Centers and Special Olympics International.
Next up for the local team is recreational walking this summer and a wellness program this fall led by Kathy Jo Gill.
Lallatin and Gill are Special Olympics local program coordinators.
Those interested in joining in the recreational walking may contact Lallatin for the calendar.
For more information, call Lallatin at Value Added at 541-575-0715.