(Posted June 22, 2022)
Recently, a number of Madison County Special Olympic athletes and their unified partners embarked on a trip that would test their skills and determination on the volleyball court.
Attending the USA Volleyball Open Championships in Orlando, Fla., the Madison County Tigers wanted to make their mark. And they definitely made their mark by upending some tough teams, ultimately finishing in second place overall and earning silver medals.
Coached by Alexis Comer, the team was made up of athletes Logan Todd, John Zeeck, Courtney Salters, and Mike Elfrink, as well as unified partners Tatum Pullins, Lincoln Comer, Jacey Hamilton, and Chris Zeeck. Volunteer assistants were Violet Comer and Carter Comer.
The Tigers showed determination throughout pool play, earning the two seed while defeating all opponents except Team Florida. The Texas Lonestar Warriors gave the Tigers some challenges, forcing three sets.
As fate would have it, the Tigers found themselves faced up with the Lonestar Warriors in the medal round. Texas again proved to be tough, winning the second set of the match and forcing a deciding third set. The Tigers won 15-12 and advanced to the championship game.
There they met Team Florida again, a squad selected to play in the 2022 USA Games. The Madison County squad faced a difficult challenge, according to Lincoln Comer, Madison County’s director of Special Olympics and community recreation for Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Even though the Tigers fell in two sets to Florida in the title game (25-17, 25-16), Comer was proud of the team’s great show of determination and sportsmanship.
“Every official we spoke with said our team was the very definition of what unified play should be,” Comer said. “I will take my team and that compliment over any medal, any day.”
The Tigers’ trip to the tournament was made possible through contributions from American Legion Post 417, Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 950, Sports Imports, Savannah’s Helping Hand, and Los Mariachis.