Athletes, Coaches and Volunteers Celebrate Many Firsts and Lasts at the 2012 State Softball Finals Presented by Amerisure
By: Kayla Hord
The sun shined down on the ball fields where nearly 500 athletes, coaches and volunteers gathered to enjoy the spirit of competition, build friendships and reflect on years past at the 2012 State Softball Finals presented by Amerisure.
The ball games at Versluis/Dickinson Softball Complex in Kalamazoo laid the backdrop for many special first and last Special Olympics Michigan memories on Saturday, July 28.
For coaches Dave and Christine Drewel of Area 11 (Kent, Barry counties) it offered a time to reminisce and celebrate. The couple, who also coach basketball, track and field, downhill skiing, and poly hockey, dedicated 20 years to Special Olympics Michigan. The State Softball Finals is their final event as coaches.
"I have met some of the most incredible individuals in the world here," said Dave. "Our athletes never give up and we make sure to always have fun. If we're not having fun, we're not doing our job!"
The day also presented many firsts. Among the 19 teams and more than 380 athletes competing, was Area 12 (Ottawa, Allegan counties) athlete Brian Berry. The State Softball Finals offered his first chance to compete at the state level.
"I like watching and playing in the games. All my friends are here too! So I get to say hi to all of them!" said Brian. Brian is excited to compete in more sports with Special Olympics Michigan, such as basketball and poly hockey.
It was also the first time volunteering for Special Olympics Michigan for Kohl's associate Chad Horvath. Chad is part of the Kohl's Cares Associates in Action program that recognizes the volunteer efforts of its associates by donating to the nonprofits they dedicate their time to. This was the fourth event Kohl's has sponsored in Kalamazoo.
Chad said he was looking forward to meeting athletes and handing out awards. He also volunteered as a field umpire during competition.
Along with the softball games, a skills competition showcased athlete's hitting, running, throwing and catching skills.
Pfizer volunteer Veronica Mutchler enjoyed her fourth State Softball Finals by helping at the skills competition with her daughter Nikki.
"I enjoy the enthusiasm and seeing everyone have fun," said Veronica. "One athlete was completely blind so we helped her complete her skills. She did it all! It was really great!"
Whether it was the beginning of many years to come or the finale of two decades of rewarding time with Special Olympics Michigan, everyone enjoyed their day at the ball park. Thank you to everyone who volunteered and supported the 2012 State Softball Finals presented by Amerisure, whose dedication continues to offer countless opportunities for Special Olympics Michigan athletes.
- 5/25: Volleyball Tournament (Carson City, MI 48811)
- 5/30: 2013 State Summer Games (Mount Pleasant)
- 5/31: Wertz Warriors Golf Outing (Macomb)
- 5/31: Rev It Up Ride (Mt. Pleasant)
- 6/8: 2013 5K Foam Fest (Shelby Twp., Michigan)
- 6/17: Area 8 Golf Invitational (East Lansing)
- 6/18: REO Golf Outing (Northville, MI 48168)
- 6/21: 6th Annual Highlands Golf Classic (Grand Rapids)
- 6/22: LETR Tri-City Area Dodgeball (Bay City, MI 48708)
- 6/22: Area 8 Miniature Golf (Okemos, Michigan 48864)