BHSSC Special Olympics Softball Team group photo seated on the bleachers

Playing for the Joy of It

Every summer a BHSSC softball team participates in the Regional Special Olympics tournament in Rapid City. Our softball team is a unified team, which means that people with and without disabilities play together. BHSSC Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are coaches and unified players on the team.

Coach Michael Gleason says, “Everyone is playing their position and role on the team and playing for the enjoyment of it—it’s not about winning or losing.” Tyler Covell, a person supported, is a veteran player on the team and agrees with that sentiment.

Covell says, “I love winning or losing. I really enjoy playing. Coach Mike is funny—he’s my favorite person.” First Base Coach Sonya Kelii adds, “As coaches we go out there to have fun and to instill winning attitudes, to cheer on other players and teams.”

DSPs, Shaylee Hayford and Janessa Wilen, were both new additions to the team this year. Wilen says, “I have never done sports, so this was something out of my comfort zone, but practices were fun—you mess up and everybody just laughs.”

The team practices once a week in the summer in anticipation of the regional tournament. Hayford says she loved the experience, “It was lots of fun to be in the tournament. No one was paying attention to the score, and everybody cheers for everybody.” There was also a large cheering section of friends and family at the tournament.

The next Special Olympics event is bowling at Meadowood Lanes in Rapid City October 13-14, 2023.