Tigers net national volleyball championship

The Madison County Tigers unified Special Olympics volleyball team won the USA Volleyball  national championship in Orlando, Fla.: (front row, from left) Lexi Comer, Shawn Stewart, Chris Zeeck, Jessica Thompson, Mike Ellis; (back row) Coach Mike Mast, Paul Hiles, John Zeeck and Lincoln Comer.
The Madison County Tigers unified Special Olympics volleyball team won the USA Volleyball national championship in Orlando, Fla.: (front row, from left) Lexi Comer, Shawn Stewart, Chris Zeeck, Jessica Thompson, Mike Ellis; (back row) Coach Mike Mast, Paul Hiles, John Zeeck and Lincoln Comer.

(Posted June 12, 2016)

A fairytale ending.

It was appropriate that in the place of Walt Disney World, a magical conclusion would take place.

That is exactly what happened for the Madison County Tigers unified Special Olympics volleyball team as they came from behind to capture the USA Volleyball Tournament national championship during Memorial Day weekend at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The Tigers are affiliated with the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabil-ities.

Led by athletes Mike Ellis, Paul Hiles, Shawn Stewart and John Zeeck, the Tigers defeated the Texas Allen Spikers 25-21, 23-25, 15-13. Unified partners were Lexi Comer, Lincoln Comer, Jessica Thompson and Chris Zeeck. Mike Mast served as coach.

“It was pretty dramatic,” said Lincoln Comer of the final moments of the cham-pionship.

The Tigers had lost to Texas the previous day in pool (ranking set-up) play. To make matters worse, Madison County was trailing 13-9 and on the brink of bringing home the runner-up trophy.

Then, Lexi called a timeout in an attempt to rally the troops.

“I told them, ‘We could either get our heads in the game and win this or give up and go home,’” Lexi Comer said.

The Tigers chose the first option, scoring the next six consecutive points, giving Madison County Special Olympics its first-ever national championship. The volleyball squad participated in this tournament in the past, most recently in 2009 in Minneapolis, Minn., where they finished third.

The Zeeck brothers received extra recognition as the tournament committee selected an athlete and a partner from each team who signified what unified sports is all about.

In addition to Texas, the other teams in Madison County’s division were Florida Brevard Fire, Georgia Kay Center Tigers, and the Arizona Thunder.

Contributors to the trip included Sports Imports, Cappy’s Pizza, Deer Creek Honey, London Police Department, M&M Sports, Mabe’s, Special Olympics Ohio, Wendy’s, The Ohio State University, Savannah’s Helping Hand, and Madison County Ride.

For more information regarding Madison County Special Olympics, contact Lincoln Comer at (740) 852-7052, ext. 1917.

Founded in 1928, USA Volleyball is a Colorado incorporated non-profit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) as the national governing body for the disciplines of beach volleyball, indoor volleyball and sitting volleyball in the United States. USA Volleyball has over 315,000 registered members, 12,000 teams and 5,300 clubs nationwide.

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