This July, 10 athletes and two coaches from Champlain Valley Union High School will be on Team Vermont at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.
The state will send 19 athletes, coaches and Unified team members to the competition held every four years in which athletes from across the country compete in 14 team and individual sports events. More than 4,000 participants are expected at the competition July 1-6, according to Special Olympics Vermont officials.
The contests in Seattle will span track and field, Unified basketball and swimming.
Vermont’s Unified basketball team includes 10 CVU students and two coaches: Graham Walker of Hinesburg, Wayne Elias of Huntington, coach Peter Booth from Jericho, Paul Keene and Coach Anthony Spagnolo of Shelburne, and Haley Clos, Kevin Conger, Shannon Loiseau, Gary Whalon, and Erin Watson of Williston.
The Vermont delegation was recognized last week at the Vermont State House in a meeting with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and an introduction in the House of Representatives where a joint resolution in their honor was read.
Sue Minter, Special Olympics Vermont president, said all of the team members had worked hard to earn the chance to compete on the national stage. “We are honored to be recognized for their efforts at the State House,” she said.
Special Olympics Unified Sports bring people with and without intellectual disabilities together to compete on the same team.
CVU has a strong history of supporting Unified Sports. The CVU basketball team won the first state championship of the Interscholastic Unified Basketball league sanctioned by the Vermont Principals’ Association in 2016.
The CVU community has also supported Special Olympics Vermont through the annual Penguin Plunge event. More than 200 plungers raised more than $50,000 for the organization in each of the last two years.
“I’m incredibly excited that our kids are going to have this opportunity at the USA Games,” said CVU math teacher Peter Booth, a coach of CVU’s Unified basketball team and organizer of the school’s Penguin Plunge efforts. “Our school has done so much work around inclusion and recognizing all of our students regardless of ability. The way that Unified Sports shines a light on students who are often on the periphery of the community has really had an impact throughout our entire building.”
Other local members of Team Vermont are swimmer Zada Anderson of Jericho and swim coach Chad Phalon, of Burlington.