Mavs enjoy helping athletes prepare for Special Olympics

Andrea Ager, left, of the Mesa State College track team helps Chelsy Cronk with her long jump form as she works with a group of Special Olympians at the park east of East Middle School. Ager and her fellow teammates helped train the group for upcoming competition.

When one of the members of the Mesa Developmental Services track team wanted to race, Ali Poppe was happy to oblige.

And when Andrew Gustafson got off to a fast start, the Mesa State College freshman couldn’t catch up in time.

“In my high school, we worked with special-needs people, so I kind of knew what it would be like, but it surprised me what they can do,” Poppe said. “I got beat in the 50 and I was trying. I don’t think their will is any different.”

MDS clients worked out with the Mesa State track team the past three weeks at East Middle School in preparation for the Western Colorado Area Special Olympics track meet April 25 at Stocker Stadium.

The presence of the Mesa State student-athletes alone has encouraged the people with developmental disabilities.

“The Mesa coach (Katrice Thomas) was a big help with this,” MDS Supportive Living Coordinator Melissa Atchley said. “(The Mesa athletes) seem to enjoy it. It’s great for our clients. They seem more eager to please (the Mesa athletes).”

There are 35 MDS clients participating in the Special Olympics regional meet, including Ron Enyart, who is competing for the first time in two years.

“I’m excited about getting back into it,” Enyart said. “It’s good to participate again.

“I used to do the relay events, but I got blood clots in both my legs.”

Angela Backhoff was so excited about the Mavericks training with them, she wanted to challenge them.

“I’ll race ’em and beat ’em,” she said.

When Mesa State sprinter Brandy Deimling was told about Backhoff’s eagerness to race, she smiled.

“Bring it on,” Deimling said. “I want some competition.

“It’s nice to help people enjoy what they do. They are so energetic. I wasn’t sure about it at first. Now, I look forward to coming to this. They seem a lot more thankful. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Mesa athletes were also able to help the MDS team learn a new event, shot put.
“Special Olympics introduced the shot put this year, so to get the girls (on the Mesa team) involved with the technical aspect of it was great,” Atchley said. “They girls are enthusiastic and get along great with the clients. They cheered for the them the first day they were here.”

Ela Amigo said the MDS athletes were getting a great opportunity to train with the Mavericks.

“They are helping us so we can win Special Olympics,” Amigo said. “They are the bestest team in the world.”

“It’s been pretty good,” said Jimmy Bailey, who was competing in the 50-yard dash, softball throw and standing long jump. “They help us run faster. They are pushing us to the max.”


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