Special athletes thrive

By Eric Avissar, The Observer June 18, 2014 10:41 am

From left to right: Jason Marks, Mary Lee and Braden Trice practice running the 100-meter dash Saturday at La Grande High School to prepare for the upcoming Special Olympics Oregon Summer Games next month. (ERIC AVISSAR/The Observer)
From left to right: Jason Marks, Mary Lee and Braden Trice practice running the 100-meter dash Saturday at La Grande High School to prepare for the upcoming Special Olympics Oregon Summer Games next month. (ERIC AVISSAR/The Observer)

Local athletes gear up for upcoming state meet

The Union County Special Olympics team is preparing for the Special Olympics Oregon Summer Games next montha at Newberg High School after what head coach Doug Trice called a very successful showing at the regional meet at Milton-Freewater June 7-8.

In both the 100-meter dash and the softball throw, Justin Bowling earned silver medals. Jennie Coppin earned gold medals in both the 100-meter race walk and the softball throw, while Jason Franks took gold in the 100 dash and silver in the standing long jump. In the 100-meter race walk, Fred Jordan earned bronze and also finished fourth in the softball throw. 

After carrying the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies, Joey Goss won the shot put, and took fourth in the 100-meter dash. Autumn Rush took bronze in the 100 race walk and silver in the softball throw. First-year participant Mary Lee competed in the 100 dash and softball throw, and finished fourth in both events. Braden Trice earned silver in the 100 dash and fifth in the shot put.

“I was very happy with how everyone did at the regional meet,” Doug Trice said. “I’m always happy with my athletes no matter what. I always tell my athletes, no matter what, win or lose, I’m happy. As long as they’re going out there and giving it 100 percent, that’s all I can ask.”

Doug Trice, who played running back on the Western Oregon University football team after graduating from La Grande High School in 1970, has also coached a wide variety of sports. Having coached Little League baseball and softball, Trice has also been an assistant coach for the La Grande High School football, wrestling and track and field teams. His son Braden has been competing in Special Olympics for 19 years, while Doug has continued to grow the Union County Special Olympics program after initially getting involved to coach his son 15 years ago.

“I love going out and seeing how happy everyone is to compete,” Trice said. “They work just as hard as the high school athletes I’ve coached, and the most important thing is that everyone keeps coming out and gets the chance to participate.”

As one of nine Union County Special Olympics athletes that will take part in the state meet, Braden Trice also said he loves continuing to be a part of Special Olympics.

“I love being a part of Special Olympics,” Braden said. “I love competing, and I have made a lot of good friends on our team.”

For the full story, see Wednesday's issue of The Observer