Oklahoma City to host Special Olympics Softball Invitational
OKLAHOMA CITY — In exactly one month, 33 teams from across the United States as well as teams from Canada, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will descend on the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City for the 2012 Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational Tournament. With over 400 athletes in attendance, competition will kick off at both the ASA Hall of Fame Complex and Bickham Park in Edmond, Okla. on Friday, September 21 with the medal rounds concluding at ASA on Sunday, September 23.
“On behalf of the entire ASA and USA Softball community, we are thrilled to welcome the Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational to OKC and our facility,” said ASA/USA Softball Executive Director Ron Radigonda. “What an amazing opportunity for us to share and experience our sport with these athletes and welcome them to our world-class venue where champions play.”
Qualified teams represent 16 states including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont and three countries as mentioned above. All athletes will arrive to OKC on Thursday and celebrate on Friday night with Opening Ceremony beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex. A special parade of athletes is planned for the Opening Ceremony as well as a series of speakers including Master of Ceremonies and USA Softball’s Olympic Gold Medalist Amanda Freed (Cypress, Calif.). The passing of the Special Olympics torch, lighting of the cauldron and a firework celebration will conclude the evening.
“Softball emphasizes team work, physical fitness and strategic thinking – benefits and skills found on the playing field that people with intellectual disabilities can use to become active, contributing members of their communities,” said Bob Gobrecht, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics North America, “We see continued growth in softball, with more than 78,000 Special Olympics athletes participating in the sport globally.”
Both traditional Special Olympics teams and Unified Sports teams (people with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team) will be represented throughout the weekend and medals will be awarded for each division. Each of the 33 competing teams qualified for the September event through a series of tournaments throughout the summer. The Tournament is made possible by Moose International, ASA Softball, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Coca-Cola.
Scores, updates, and photos from the Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational Tournament will be available through www.asasoftball.com. The Opening Ceremony as well all games throughout the weekend are free and open to the public.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.