LONG BEACH - "Play ball" was the cry as the Special Olympics program officially came to Long Beach's Tinker Field Thursday, June 16. Officials from Aberdeen and local coaches, coordinators, and volunteers began the internationally popular program with softball assessments. Hillary Hope, 2011 Ilwaco High School graduate, was the first participant as four volunteers completed sign-up sheets.
"You have a good arm, and very accurate," Grays Harbor Special Olympics coach Dani Rodewald complimented after Hope made her longest throw land less than two feet from the target line. Assessment of baserunning, fielding, and batting followed.
Special Olympic softball practice will be held throughout the summer at 6 p.m. every Thursday evening at Tinker Field (just south of Rutherford Field used for baseball) in Long Beach. Tori Board, program director of Arc Gray Harbor was also on hand to lend assistance and help participants and volunteers complete the registration process.
Participants must be at least eight years old and pass a physical exam much the same as middle and high school athletes are required to have. Those wishing to volunteer need a rudimentary background check and also must fill out forms to complete the application process.
Kathy Matthai has agreed to be the local volunteer coach and Debbie Hays will be the local contact person. For more information about participating or helping with the Special Olympics program in Long Beach she can be reached at 360-783-2819. Other Special Olympic sports include golf, bowling, swimming, and basketball and it is hoped that more Naselle and Peninsula participants and volunteers will get involved.
"We have built it, they will come," Board said confidently.