Kendal Lancaster doesn’t hestitate when asked what she enjoys most about competing in the Special Olympics.
“What I like is the teamwork and doing your best,” said the 17-year-old from . The strategy certainly paid off March 4-6 at the 2011 Special Olympics Winter Games in Wenatchee. Lancaster, as well as several of her teammates at school, all took home medals.
More than 1,500 athletes competed in speed-skating, snowboarding, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and basketball. There were 300 coaches and 700 volunteers, and more than 2,500 friends and family members took in the action.
Three basketball teams from the Edmonds School District competed, and all took home awards. Ken Imthurn’s team earned second place in the level two category, Akeem Harris’ team picked up fourth place in the level three category, and Sherry White’s team took home second place in the level four categories. The levels are regulated by Special Olympics and range from one to four depending on skill.
In addition to Kendall, a junior, others from Edmonds-Woodway who competed at the state championships included senior Sydney Stumpf, 18; junior Alex Sumner, 17; and freshmen Scott Nichols and Laura McFadden, both 15. They earned the honor of going to state by winning first place at regional championships Feb. 5 in Stanwood.
“I like basketball because it’s good exercise and helps me get in shape,” said Sumner. “It also shows that teamwork is important.” Although she won for her basketball skills, Sumner says she also enjoys bowling, football and soccer.
Stumpf agreed about getting exercise, but added: “I like to have fun. And I’m a good shot.”
Of course, a trip to the state championships also means getting out and having a little fun while not competing. Nichols, who said many of his basketball shots “got nothing but net,” admits he enjoyed the hotel’s hot tub and swimming pool.
And when competition finished, all participants dressed up for a dance.
All of the athletes were coached by Becki Bell, a paraeducator at Edmonds-Woodway who has been a Special Olympics coach for 26 years.
“These are all just great kids,” said Bell, who was honored in January by Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper for her efforts. “We also just get wonderful support from all the parents. This is my 26th year as a coach. It’s still fun.”