A Special Team

Two players from Kamloops, Tye Flukinger and Terrance Haimila and head coach Leah Briault experienced the thrill of a lifetime as members of the BC Ogopogos that struck gold in co-ed basketball at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia during the August long weekend.
The team went 4 & 0, beating Alberta 23-13 in the final capping the thrill of a lifetime. The Ogopogos also included players from Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm. They were given the opportunity to compete to round out the field for the national event. The 10 player team was formed for the 2017 BC Special Olympics in Kamloops where it won gold. It only held two practices to prepare for the 2018 championship. The 21 year old players, Flukinger and Haimila and the coach have been together for two and a half years.
A highlite of the tournament according to coach Briault cemented team spirit. It came in a round robin placement game against Nova Scotia when Flukinger had what appeared to be an easy chance for a basket. She instead dished off to Tessa Allwood, a down syndrome player from Salmon Arm. Flukinger urged Allwood to shoot and the Nova Scotia players backed off. The gym went completely silent anticipating the opportunity and then exploded with the pure joy of Allwood finding net for her first basket of any competition. Her mother was among the spectators. Briault hugged the Nova Scotia coach after the game and said there should be more coaches like him as he taught the team about how to be inclusive and respectful of sportsmanship – a true example of the athlete oath “Let me win, and if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics and Team BC won 64 gold medals, 74 silver and 83 bronze medals at the national event.
The Ogopogos are now in the discussion to compete in the World Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi in March of 2019.