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    The Nassau County Special Olympics surf team includes, front row from left, Cade Soileau, Aidan Carter, Joseph Coles, Brent Dickerson, Katie Freeman, Jake Martin, Alissa DiDomenico, Ethan “Max” Lucovsky; second row, Kristopher Mitchell, Weston Terry, Diego Martinez-Brown, Vincent Wolski, Zachary “Scully” Sculthorpe, Stephanie Willaford, Anthony Duncan, Luis Martinez-Brown; back row, coaches Glenn Bourquin, Aaron Whitehouse, Ivan McMullen (in absentia) and Kirk Mitchell, catcher Sophie Bourquin, coaches David Montgomery, Betzy Harris, Glenn Sculthorpe, Emily Flint, Alan Young and Vernellie “Klippies” Booyens, catcher Zoe Gilsenan, coaches Curtis Hensyl, Jack Martin (in absentia) and Steve Mehas. Not pictured: Joseph Sheperis and Coach Virginia Foxworth. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Nassau County Special Olympics surf team swells to 17

The Nassau County Special Olympics surf program began its official delegation sport program in 2014 with seven athletes and an equal number of coaches. The team wrapped up its first season Sept. 12-13, 2014, with competition at the State Surfing Championship at Cocoa Beach. The local delegation was awarded two gold medals, one silver, three bronze and a fourth-place finish.  

The team has grown to 17 athletes, 12 coaches and two or more catchers this season, which officially began on June 1. The team has had 10 practices since the beginning of the season with an overall average athlete attendance of more than 85 percent.  

Nassau County was scheduled to host the annual Area 5 competition on July 27 at Little Talbot Island with four counties participating, including Duval, Volusia, Orange and Nassau, representing more than 50 competing athletes. That event was, unfortunately, canceled due to a deluge of rain, lightning, thunder and blustery wind.

“The spirit and commitment of the athletes and coaches was not daunted, as they were back out in the water surfing two weeks later,” Coach Kirk Mitchell said.

The season culminates with the state surfing competition scheduled for Oct. 26 at Alan Shepard State Park in Cocoa Beach.

“Our local surfing athletes and coaches are looking forward to this year’s state competition since the festive state event was canceled in 2016, 2017 and 2018 due to Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Florence,” Mitchell said.

The growth of the Special Olympics Nassau County surfing program is due in large part to the committed athletes and the tireless energy and dedication of the finest coaching staff in the state, Mitchell said.

This year’s program was supported by numerous sponsors, including P5 Productions, Driftwood Surf Shop, Surf Asy-lum, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 283 and Jersey Mike’s.  

The mission of Special Olympics Florida is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.   

Special Olympics Nassau County current offers sports training and competition in track and field, cycling, swimming, surfing, bowling and basketball. Visit www.special olympicsflorida.org/nassau.

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