Gold for Edmonds team

EVERETT — It was great weather for the softball games Sunday morning.

People sat in the bleachers, on lawn chairs or the grass to watch the players catch the ball or run the bases at the Boeing Everett Activity Center. They were cheering the competitors at the Summer Sports Classic, a two-day softball and one-day golf tournament organized by Special Olympics Washington.

About 60 teams from different parts of the state and in different categories played in the softball tournament at Kasch Memorial Park and the Boeing Everett Activity Center this past weekend. Snohomish County was represented by teams from Edmonds, Everett and Lake Stevens.

On Sunday, the Edmonds Knights and Edmonds Firecrackers of the Masters Division reached the championship level in their categories.

The gold medal was at stake, but for players of the Edmonds Knights — who are from Everett, Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace — they were winners by just being able to play.

“It helps in my hand-eye coordination, keeps me focused, active and I socialize,” said third baseman Cameron Mathena, 27. “It’s a great sport.”

Mathena has limited options in what sports he can play because he has no peripheral vision. He also is getting ready to bowl for the Special Olympics.

The Summer Sports Classic has been held for the past seven years, said John Borgognoni, vice president of Sports and Programs for Special Olympics Washington.

“It was great weekend for the 800 athletes that competed. They all did their best, and Everett did a great job hosting the event,” Borgognoni said.

The players were divided into 15 divisions depending on their age, ability and gender. Most of the athletes have some form of intellectual disability, but there were some with development disabilities, Borgognoni said.

In total, there were 59 teams, with each having between 12 and 18 players. They were broken into different age groups, including children as young as 8.

Saturday was the day of the golf competition at the Walter Hall Golf Course. About 120 athletes participated in three different types of events: a regular round of nine or 18 holes, individual skills, and “co-unified participation” which pairs a golfer with one who has a disability.

In total, 13 athletes from the Everett Mulligans and six from the Lake Stevens Tigers won medals in different categories at the golf tournament.

To qualify for the softball competition, the teams had to win their region’s tournament. Snohomish County is part of the Northwest region which also comprises Skagit and Whatcom counties. The tournament was held in Lynden, early August, Borgognoni said.

There is no national championship this year. It’s held only every four years, the next one being in 2014.

At the end of the day, the Edmonds Firecrackers lost to the Clark County Pirates in the Masters Division Level 6, a game between players older than 22 years and with the lowest level of skill.

They still had a good time, said Brian Radabaugh, of Lynnwood, and parent of Aaron, first baseman for the Firecrackers.

Radabaugh said the tournament helped the team members socialize.

“They like to talk to each other,” he said after the game.

The game went better for the Edmonds Knights, who beat the Renton Slammers 14-4 in the Masters Division Level 4 championship game for players with higher skills.

The victory would greatly help each player’s self-esteem, said John Scanlon, coach for the Knights.

Scanlon describes his team as “the nicest patch of players” as they posed for pictures with their gold medals around their necks.

“Even if they had won second place, they would still smile,” Scanlon said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422;adominguez@ heraldnet.com.

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