Members of the Special Olympics Team BC 2024 Training Squad are setting their sights on Calgary! Athletes, coaches, and mission staff from all eight winter sports held training camps throughout the fall season, ensuring that they are competing at their best at the Special Olympics Canada National Games Calgary 2024, happening February 27 to March 2.
Training camps are vital in preparing for National Games, as it brings athletes across the province together to develop sport skills, build team spirit, and learn from their coaches.
Athletes refine their sport skills through expert coaching and simulation
We are so grateful to the expert coaches and sport facilities for dedicating their valuable time and efforts in providing opportunities for SOBC athletes to thrive in their sports!
The figure skating team came together for a training camp in September with the help of Ben Ferriera, a former international competitive skater and current coach. Ferriera led the athletes in a series of active warmups and gave valuable advice to each athlete in sharpening their routines and skills.
“It was really great to see everyone. Thank you to all the coaches who worked hard to make this happen and helped us improve our skills!” says SOBC – Surrey athlete Kayla Tellier.
The alpine skiing team also had a productive training camp thanks to Infinity Ski, an indoor ski training facility! Athletes put their skills to the test on ski machines, which simulate the experience of skiing on real snow through special curtains and motors.
SOBC – Nanaimo athlete Ron Greenhorn enjoyed the realistic experience, saying that it was “very cool,” and he will “definitely do it again.”
Find more highlights from the team’s action-packed training camp by checking out a video made by coach Saige Beaumont from SOBC – Revelstoke!
Forming friendships with fun team activities
While developing sport skills is a major component to a successful training camp, creating strong bonds with each other is something that athletes rely on throughout the intensity of competition at National Games.
The cross country skiing and snowshoeing teams held a joint training camp in West Kelowna. Athletes participated in a variety of fun activities that tested their communication skills and teamwork.
SOBC – Vernon snowshoeing athlete Danielle Pechet had a blast participating in these activities.
“I especially liked the one activity where I was blindfolded, and I had to draw a picture from instructions given by my teammates. I thought this was beneficial because it brought me out of my shell. This activity gave me trust and communication with my teammates,” she said.
The speed skating team did a similar activity during their training camp at Timberline Ranch, where one teammate was blindfolded and the others had to verbally guide them through an obstacle course while balancing an egg on a spoon.
For SOBC – Abbotsford coach Donna Bilous, it was rewarding for her to see that these types of fun activities and games were a great way for athletes to develop communication skills that will help translate to their sport performances.
“It was really good for the athletes to learn about communication and how they had to be specific when giving instructions,” she said. “I was super impressed with our athletes. I felt that all of our athletes gave 101 per cent. We talked about the increase of that extra one per cent, and that's what I'm always impressed by.”
Competing together as one
Sport teams from 5-bowling, curling, and floor hockey held their own team training camps across the province! Building team chemistry is especially important for athletes participating in these particular sports, as they rely on each other to ultimately succeed as a team.
“My athletes are very, very excited,” says 5-pin bowling coach Patricia Krieger from SOBC – South Okanagan. “For three out of the five bowlers on our team, this will be their first time going to National Games. I would like to see them realize that a little team from a little town can do big things!”
Participating in team sports also allows the opportunity for family members to compete together! Longtime SOBC athlete Suzanne Armstrong and her daughters April and Mary are all members of the Burnaby Wildcats curling team, and they are pumped to be curling alongside each other!
Wildcats coach Debra Colvin marvels at their devotion to the sport and how Special Olympics has changed their lives.
“It’s an amazing story of a tight-knit family all involved in Special Olympics, and how Special Olympics sporting opportunities have enhanced their lives!” she said.
On the hardwood, the Comox Valley Vipers and Mission Blazers floor hockey teams are both gearing up to compete with pride at National Games.
For the Vipers, the 2024 National Games will be another chance for them to capture gold, after achieving silver medal finishes at the past two National Games. This has been a big goal for many members of the team.
“My goal is to help the team win gold this year!” says SOBC – Comox Valley athlete Jake Hooper.
The Mission Blazers are also eyeing big achievements and team success at the National Games, with everyone prepared to give it their all in Calgary.
“The effort and attitude our team have put in makes me feel very proud of all the athletes to be a part of this team,” says Mission Blazers coach Stephen Barry.