After finding out that they would be going to the Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational, the Surry County Yellow Jackets knew they had a lot of work ahead of them. The team, exceptionally excited about the opportunity, began practicing once a week to prepare for the stiff competition.
Going into the competition, which took place on Aug 18-21 in Roanoke, Virginia, the Yellow Jackets were not only excited to play against teams from across the United States and Canada, but to meet so many new people throughout the tournament.
The weekend kicked off with division games and the Opening Ceremony, which included a parade where two Surry County athletes represented North Carolina. Additionally, two-time Olympic Softball player and professor at Liberty University Dr. Dot Robinson made a guest appearance and signed autographs.
Though they lost their first game in their division, the Yellow Jackets stayed motivated for their next game. They came back strong and won their second game against Ontario LaSalle, securing the bronze.
“There was a lot of excitement and tears,” Coach Frances Earley said of winning bronze. “They played their hearts out all weekend, and were just tickled to come away with the bronze at the end of the tournament.”
On top of a medal, the Yellow Jackets had many successes at the SONA Softball Invitational. Catcher Sam Chamberlain caught his first ever foul ball during the tournament. Then, continuing with his triumph, he later caught his second foul ball in another game!
“You would have thought he had won the lottery,” Earley noted.
This achievement, and many more, was celebrated when the whole team would come together to have, what Earley called, reminiscing time. This was how they chose to spend their sparse downtime—talking, laughing and sharing stories.
The Surry County Yellow Jackets gave all they had throughout the weekend and it showed. Not only can they now say they won bronze at a Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational, they can also share how important it was to work together on and off the field, show determination during games, and maintaining their positive attitudes. Congratulations, Surry County!