County athletes face international competition


By Andy Winemiller - [email protected]



Surry County’s Special Olympics softball team poses for a picture after winning the gold at this year’s state summer games.


Submitted photograph

Members of the Surry County Special Olympics softball team celebrate after a big win at the state games.


Submitted photograph

A Surry County softball team will soon enter the international arena.

In June, the Surry County Special Olympics softball team brought home gold medals from the state summer games. Soon they will travel to Roanoke, Virginia, to play against teams from across the U.S. and beyond.

“There are teams from Wisconsin, Maryland and others staying in the same hotel us,” said team coach Frances Early.

The locals will play against teams from those states and others from Aug. 18 through 21.

Daniel White, Surry County parks and recreation director, noted there will even be teams from beyond the United States at the event. Some squads will travel from Latin American countries, Canada and the Caribbean to take part in the competition.

Earley said the invite to the national tournament is a result of the team’s finish at the state competition. At those games teams are broken into divisions based on their abilities. The Surry County athletes earned gold medals in their division.

“All the gold medal winners are placed in a drawing for which ones will go to nationals,” explained Earley. “This year our team was picked to go.”

It will be a first appearance for Earley’s team at the grand tournament, though the softball team has placed at states each of the past four years and has twice won gold.

Earley said there will be some differences for the team’s members, coaches — who include Earley’s husband and daughter — and chaperones.

“At states we stay in dormitories,” said Earley. “In Roanoke we will stay in hotel. That could present some challenges.”

Logistical challenges aside, Earley said her team is focused on competition and is as ready as they will ever be to take on the best of the best teams throughout North America.

“This is an awesome opportunity,” said Earley, who noted the team began practicing for the state games once a week in March.

Winning the state games was an encouraging turn of events, which Earley noted was a true team effort. That stated, it only helped her team focus on its next endeavor in Roanoke.

“That first practice after state, they played just as hard as they did at state,” said Earley, who finished up practices on Saturday.

Earley said her son, Levi, and his 15 teammates are ready to head to Roanoke, and no matter what happens, they will win.

“We go into all of these with an attitude of if we win, we win. If we don’t, we don’t,” noted Earley. “They are all winners no matter what happens on the field.”

Surry County’s Special Olympics softball team poses for a picture after winning the gold at this year’s state summer games.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_Softball-Team.jpgSurry County’s Special Olympics softball team poses for a picture after winning the gold at this year’s state summer games. Submitted photograph

Members of the Surry County Special Olympics softball team celebrate after a big win at the state games.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_SOSoftball2.jpgMembers of the Surry County Special Olympics softball team celebrate after a big win at the state games. Submitted photograph

By Andy Winemiller

[email protected]

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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