The Tuscarawas County Rockets Silver team celebrates after securing the D3 Championship title at the Special Olympics State Basketball Championship this past weekend. (Submitted)
New Philadelphia, Ohio - The Rockets are celebrating a few more big wins ahead of Tuesday night’s community basketball game.
Tuscarawas County Specials Olympics Coordinator Richelle Lefler says the Rockets Silver and Rockets Skills Team both had stellar showings at the State Championships this past weekend, with the Skills Team earning several medals and fourth-place finishes and the Silver Team claiming the Division III championship title.
“For our skills competition, Chelsea Lefler and Seth Seth Oberholzer both received fourth-place finishes. Abby Cool earned a second-place finish and Larry Smitley won gold, and then our Rockets Silver basketball team also won gold," she says.
Lefler says the athletes are beaming with pride coming off of these victories, especially the Silver team players who bounced back after losing three of their starters.
"The Silver team, in particular, had some various challenges and setbacks here later in the season, so for them to pull together as a team and pull out this victory, it’s just an incredible testament to their resiliency and their determination and their grit," she says.
Lefler says this comes just weeks after the Rockets bowlers grabbed another handful of medals and ribbons at the National Special Olympics Bowling Tournament in Las Vegas.
"We had one of our doubles teams earn two silvers. That was Angelica Mendoza and Alex Adkins. One of our teams earned two bronzes, and that was Michael Johnson and Jon Wheeler, and we had one team earn a silver and a fourth-place, and that was Kershel and Kory Zehnder; and then we had a team that earned a bronze and sixth-place, and that was Nathanial Wells and Russ Shiar," she says.
The Rockets will be back in action Tuesday night at 6:30 for their annual community basketball game at Central Catholic High School. Lefler says this is a fun and friendly competition that will have the Rockets joining forces with special guests from the community.
"That could be staff from the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities or provider agencies such as Advocates for Success or Adult Day Services or Starlight Enterprises, and then also just other community members, board members," she says. "We’ve had principals of local schools, family members of different employees. It’s incredible, and it’s awesome, and it’s just fun."
Admission is free, and Lefler says they’re hoping to pack the stands with cheering fans. The Rockets also have a charity basketball game against area first responders coming up on April 12th and a multi-county friendship game on April 18th. Both games are free to attend and will be held at Strasburg-Franklin High School.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV