After a softball season filled with successes, the Muscatine Special Olympics Warriors softball team and a selection of softball skills athletes had one final chance to demonstrate all their hard work at the State Tournament in Ankeny on August 3rd. True to form, both groups of athletes had an outstanding outing and brought back several honors to Muscatine, as they have throughout the year.
At the State Tournament, the Muscatine Warriors (one of Muscatine Special Olympics’ competitive softball teams) went one and one in a close series of games to earn the silver medal. The softball skills athletes put up a good showing as well, taking home four gold, three silver, three bronze, and one seventh place ribbon.
Throughout the course of the tournament, all of the athletes distinguished themselves. Jason Miller, Director of Muscatine Special Olympics elaborated that for the Muscatine Warriors, “both of the games we played were very close. We played very similar teams and were well matched. I’m proud of how our teams played offensively and defensively. They didn’t get down on themselves and they just played good hard ball.”
Likewise, for the softball skills athletes, Miller shared, “I’m very proud of how skills went considering the competition we’ve seen across the state of Iowa. You can see the difference in the players who have practiced and put in the work. It was shown on the playing field. They really knew what they were doing and excelled in all the areas of throwing, fielding, hitting, and running.”
In particular, Miller felt pleased that many of his softball skills athletes have improved substantially over the course of the season, and that come next year, some will play on one of the competitive teams. “I’m excited and encouraged for the future. I see a few of our athletes moving up to the next level. It’s hard for some people to make that transition to team sports, but those I have my eye on, I think they can really do a good job,” he added.
Overall, the sense of belonging and inclusion that the State Tournament generated created the best memories for Miller and his athletes. He explained, “Inclusion is a big thing and I can’t stress this enough for opportunities to be available for everyone no matter the ability level. When you look deeper into what people want, they just want to be included, whether it’s on or off the playing field. It’s so simple but so very important.”
With the Special Olympics softball season over for this year, everyone in the program looks forward to Muscatine Special Olympics’ upcoming seasons, flag football, flag football skills, golf, and bowling. As the season changes and athletes transition into these fall sports, Miller looks forward to seeing them continue to play their best, and to continue getting to experience the joy of playing and competing on a team. Whatever the sport, Muscatine will continue to support these athletes and enjoy watching them shine.