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:
Ashleigh King â€“ 5-pin bowling
Jas Nagra â€“ 5-pin bowling
Jennifer King â€“ 5-pin bowling
Tyler Page â€“ 5-pin bowling
Josh Low â€“ aquatics
Karina DuPaul â€“ aquatics
Trisha Boyle â€“ aquatics
Abigale Calvert â€“ athletics
Andrea Zonneveld â€“ athletics
David Cairns â€“ athletics
Dustin Beard â€“ athletics
Alastair Singh â€“ basketball
Carson Buzdegan â€“ basketball
Chris Lawrie â€“ basketball
Chris Shaxon â€“ basketball
Kailyn Potomak â€“ basketball
Karl Beugh â€“ basketball
Kyle Litfin â€“ basketball
Matt Williams â€“ basketball
Sean Annan â€“ basketball
Trevin Martel â€“ basketball
Chris Beugh â€“ softball
Christian Burton â€“ softball
Jade Deakin â€“ softball
Jaykob Low â€“ softball
Jenifer Burton â€“ softball
Jeremy Wright â€“ softball
Kathy Foss â€“ softball
Krista Sanders â€“ softball
Matthew Sanches â€“ softball
Stuart Stevenson â€“ softball
Brendon Schmidt â€“ basketball
Kurc Buzdegan â€“ basketball
Peter Potomak â€“ basketball
Rob Martel â€“ basketball
Keith Foss â€“ softball
Monique Deakin â€“ softball
Robin Foss â€“ softball
Cari Henri â€“ team manager
Patty Wheeldon â€“ 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 â€œAâ€ 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.
â€œSometimes itâ€™s a real challenge for athletes to be the coachâ€™s son,â€ Buzdegan said. â€œHe has a lot to prove but heâ€™s earned his spot, thatâ€™s for sure.â€
For the Warriors, success comes not just from talent â€“ which the team has no shortage of, in Buzdeganâ€™s opinion â€“ but from the fact they play as a team.
â€œWhat makes a really good team goes beyond individual skills,â€ he said. â€œAthletes 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.â€
The Warriorsâ€™ knowledge of their strengths and the areas they need to work on has allowed them to take their game to new heights, Buzdegan said.
â€œYou 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 thatâ€™s helped them a lot in taking their game to another level,â€ Buzdegan said.
Another huge factor is mentorship from the Trinity Western University womenâ€™s basketball team, led by their head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul.
â€œThey have helped the team a lot,â€ Buzdegan said.
The Warriors have been practising on the Langley Events Centre hard court, sharing floor space with the same Surrey team that theyâ€™ll be facing at the Canada Games. The camaraderie between the two teams has impressed the Warriorsâ€™ bench boss.
â€œThere 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,â€ 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.