Langleyites converge on Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver

Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games, here they come.

Thirty-one athletes, seven coaches, and two mission staff members from Langley are among the Special Olympics BC contingent in Vancouver taking part in the Games, which get underway with opening ceremonies today, Tuesday, July 8, and wrap up Saturday, July 12.

The 360 Team BC members make up the largest provincial team ever to shine on this significant national stage.

The SOBC Langley contingent includes:

Athletes           

Ashleigh King – 5-pin bowling

Jas Nagra – 5-pin bowling

Jennifer King – 5-pin bowling

Tyler Page – 5-pin bowling

Josh Low – aquatics

Karina DuPaul – aquatics

Trisha Boyle – aquatics

Abigale Calvert – athletics

Andrea Zonneveld – athletics

David Cairns – athletics

Dustin Beard – athletics

Alastair Singh – basketball

Carson Buzdegan – basketball

Chris Lawrie – basketball

Chris Shaxon – basketball

Kailyn Potomak – basketball

Karl Beugh – basketball

Kyle Litfin – basketball

Matt Williams – basketball

Sean Annan – basketball

Trevin Martel – basketball

Chris Beugh – softball

Christian Burton – softball

Jade Deakin – softball

Jaykob Low – softball

Jenifer Burton – softball

Jeremy Wright – softball

Kathy Foss – softball

Krista Sanders – softball

Matthew Sanches – softball

Stuart Stevenson – softball

Coaches           

Brendon Schmidt – basketball

Kurc Buzdegan – basketball

Peter Potomak – basketball

Rob Martel – basketball

Keith Foss – softball

Monique Deakin – softball

Robin Foss – softball

Mission staff           

Cari Henri  – team manager

Patty Wheeldon – mission staff

The sizeable local hoops group comes from the fact that one of the teams representing B.C. is the Langley Warriors, led by their head coach Kurc Buzdegan,

The Warriors go into the competition missing a pair of key players, with Austin Barber and Alexander Singh, whose brother Alastair plays on the team, out with injuries.

Langley will be facing some tough competition as basketball debuts at the Canada Games.

Hoops teams will be slotted into three divisions, determined by skill level, with the Warriors in the ultra-competitive “A” bracket along with Surrey, a team from Nova Scotia, and an entry from Lasalle, Ont.

The 61-year-old Buzdegan has been coaching basketball to people with intellectual challenges for the past 14 years, and his 25-year-old son Carson is a member of the Warriors.

“Sometimes it’s a real challenge for athletes to be the coach’s son,” Buzdegan said. “He has a lot to prove but he’s earned his spot, that’s for sure.”

For the Warriors, success comes not just from talent – which the team has no shortage of, in Buzdegan’s opinion – but from the fact they play as a team.  

“What makes a really good team goes beyond individual skills,” he said. “Athletes have to be able to communicate. I say at every single practice, you have to know your strengths and you have to know what your challenges are, and you have to know how to ask for assistance.”

The Warriors’ knowledge of their strengths and the areas they need to work on has allowed them to take their game to new heights, Buzdegan said.

“You have to look beyond your own personal experience. If another player has a better shot at the basket, let [him or her] take it. I think that’s helped them a lot in taking their game to another level,” Buzdegan said.

Another huge factor is mentorship from the Trinity Western University women’s basketball team, led by their head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul.

“They have helped the team a lot,” Buzdegan said.

The Warriors have been practising on the Langley Events Centre hard court, sharing floor space with the same Surrey team that they’ll be facing at the Canada Games. The camaraderie between the two teams has impressed the Warriors’ bench boss.

“There are pretty big bragging rights and medals that come with that, and from a coaching perspective, winning is one thing, but just as important is the amount of sportsmanship and goodwill,” Buzdegan said.

This is the first time since 1990 that the Special Olympics National Games have been held in B.C.

Team BC 2014 is comprised of 276 athletes with intellectual disabilities, 70 coaches, and 14 mission staff.

During the Games, the athletes will go for gold in 11 sports: 10-pin bowling, 5-pin bowling, aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, and softball.

To visit the Games’ website, click here.

Find the full SOBC roster and the sports they are involved in by clicking here.

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