Special Olympics golfers gear up
The Special Olympics Union County golf team will head to the state tournament at the Chehalem Golf Course in Newberg beginning Friday.
Under the Special Olympics golf format, one special Olympian will play with a partner while alternating shots over a nine-hole course. Union County will field four teams as Sam Altenburg will play with his father, George, Ian Altenburg will play with Pat Vaughn, Alex Weissensluh will pair up with his grandfather, Allen, and Terry Bolken will team up with Scott Hayes. Coach Pam Thompson said she is eager to see the golfers in action.
“These athletes are so ambitious and always want to learn so much,” Thompson said. “It’s so easy to work with them, and I enjoy the athletes so much.”
The Union County Special Olympics golf team has been practicing every Monday night at the La Grande Country Club. Thompson said she expects about 280 golfers at the state meet, and 530 people total at the course.
“They are so excited,” Thompson said. “It’s a lot different at practice without the stresses and pressures. I think the partners are more stressed than the athletes.”
Thompson currently works as the director of finance for the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority. She originally got involved in Special Olympics after Union County Special Olympics Coach Doug Hayes asked Thompson to attend swim practice to give advice on proper swim strokes. Since then, Thompson, who swam on the now-defunct Eastern Oregon University swim team, said she has fallen in love with the Special Olympics program ever since then.