The Terrace Howling Wolves Special Olympic basketball team took second place in the “C” Division of the 2019 Prince George Invitational Tournament on April 13.
This was the first tournament in which the team competed in the last three years. Coach Chris Dale says it was a big event for the team as they had to adjust to playing competitively in a bigger court.
“We don’t get to do this very often and it was the first time for quite a few of them… I think they were pretty nervous, but they played really well so I was proud of them on how they handled all that.”
The games were held at John McInnis Secondary School, with two teams each from Prince George and Quesnel competing in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ divisions. The Howling Wolves defeated the Prince George Timberwolves 30 – 20 and lost to the Quesnel Fury 32 – 16.
“In Special Olympics, they divide everybody up into categories according to their ability… We were pretty evenly matched. We lost one game and won the other,” he says. “They were really happy about it and they weren’t worried about losing either. The fact that they’re out there playing and get to do it, is the real thrill.”
Dale, who’s been coaching the team for 16 years, became involved when his daughter first started playing for Special Olympics. He says it’s important to have the athletes participate in sports and take part in bigger events as it helps them gain confidence and develop their skills.
“It’s just really awarding to see them enjoy it so much and have fun. A lot of them when going through school, they didn’t play a lot of sports because they couldn’t keep up with the mainstream students,” says Dale. “A lot of them don’t get to socialize that much with each other. They need help to do a lot of things so this is a chance for them to see their friends, and basketball is a fun game.”
He adds that the main focus of his coaching is to help them learn how to work with one another.
“In basketball, everybody wants to score so it has sort of taken a while to understand the concept of passing but in this tournament, I was really proud of them because they were passing all the time to each other and playing as a team.”