The 2019 Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner took place on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Best Western Wayside Inn Banquet Room in Wetaskiwin.
1998 Wetaskiwin Warlords Special Olympics Slo-pitch Team
The Wetaskiwin Warlords were a Special Olympics team that was organized for a couple of years in order to play ball in the St. Paul Alberta’s Special Olympics Annual Tournament. Teams from all over the province and even other provinces compete at this tournament. After the first year of participating in St Paul and realizing how much fun it was, two teams from Wetaskiwin attended the tournament the second year, an “A” team and a “B” team. It was in the second year that the “A” team garnered success with some rather accomplished athletes. The “A” team won the tournament and a couple of weeks after the tournament Special Olympics Alberta informed the Warriors that because of their win they were chosen to be Team Alberta at a national tournament in Surrey BC.
The coach, team manager, team members and all those connected with the team had no idea of the scope of the competition.
However, the team had to prepare to represent Alberta at the tournament. First of all, the team had to have “real” uniforms, t-shirts wouldn’t cut it. Special Olympics Alberta helped by covering the cost of the uniforms as well as transportation and registration fees. Secondly, the team had to prepare for the competition. Practices were held twice a week and players were brought up from the “B” team to bolster the roster.
The trip to the competition was really exciting for everyone and for many of the team members, it was their first airplane trip.
The team was housed at Trinity University in Langley BC with other teams from across Canada. Once in Surrey the scope of the competition became apparent. It turned out the Special Olympics event in Surrey was being held in conjunction with the Women’s Canada Cup Ladies International Softball Championship. National ladies softball teams from all over the world were competing against one another to prepare for Olympic Qualifying. The Special Olympics Friendship Division that the Wetaskiwin Warlords were competing in was the Special Olympics competition to choose Team Canada.
Opening ceremonies were held before the start of the tournament however, sadly half of the Warriors team missed the ceremonies as the bus driver forgot them.
The Wetaskiwin Warlords represented Alberta admirably and the event was a once in a lifetime experience for all. To compete and celebrate along with such gifted world class athletes was beyond awesome for everyone concerned. New friendships were made, fears were faced and individual confidence grew. It was a life-changing event for some of those involved and many wonderful memories were made. This was one of Alberta’s Special Olympics athletes first participation in an “inclusive” competition.
The next year half of the team moved either to get married, go to school or life took them in another direction. Special Olympics in Wetaskiwin had ball teams for a couple of years after 1998 but there has never been another Wetaskiwin team able to reach the heights of the 1998 Warlords. All of the 1998 team members, coaches and the manager are to be congratulated for their well deserved induction into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame. They are a credit to our community!
Team Members include Richard Arcand, Ken Ford, Trevor Ford, Andrew Garvey, Nathan Gibson, Charlene McDermott, Cameron McNainy, Tim Miller, Jackie Phahl, Keith Russell, Joey Schwaier, Darcy Smith, Chester Stone, Anna Turnquist and Calvin Webster along with head coach Blain Fuller, assistant coach Gary Ford, Manager Sheana McDermott and Team Assistant Theresa Fuller.
Submitted by Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame