Sportsmanship takes center court

Sportsmanship takes center court

Alex Adkins from Tuscarawas County and Jalen Berry from Coshocton County pause for a picture.


Strasburg High School set the stage for what spectators described as one of the best basketball games they witnessed all season. All of the usual components were present: fans, coaches, players, cheerleaders, announcers, officials and other supporters. The game was the third annual Multi-County Friendship Game, hosted by Tuscarawas County Special Olympics.

Twenty-eight players from Belmont County, Coshocton County, Guernsey County, Stark County, Stepping Stones, Summit County and Tuscarawas County (Rockets Maroon and Rockets Silver) joined forces to deliver the game.

This year’s colors, selected by the Athlete-Leadership Council from Tuscarawas County, were pink and green. At the end of the game, it was the pink team edging out the green by a score of 43-41. Alex Adkins (Rockets Maroon) led the pink team with 12 points while Zac Ferguson (Guernsey) and Darnell Meely (Stark) had 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the green team.

The game started as a dream of two Rockets athletes in 2017 and has grown every year. This is Strasburg’s third time hosting the event. Serving as officials were Mike Spinell and Ken Schaffer, both longtime supporters of Special Olympics.

Bailey and Terry Sites served as guest announcers for the game, entertaining the crowd with their basketball lingo and humor. Jalen Berry from Coshocton County sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and Jehred Bennett from Tuscarawas County recited the Special Olympics Athlete Oath.

Prior to the start of the game, the Spirit of Tuscarawas County Award and the Community Partner Award were given out. The Spirit of Tuscarawas County Award recognizes the local host school that exemplifies and embodies the spirit of Special Olympics and inclusion for all. This is shown by promoting attendance and the principle of filling the stands at home basketball games.

Athlete leaders Steve Hazelip and Alex Adkins said, “This year’s recipient of the Spirit of Tuscarawas County Award not only filled the stands, they brought a pep band, a biddy dribblers club, student-athletes and several community members to support us. They cheered for us, played songs for us, performed for us and most importantly accepted us as their own. When we needed a full-court gym to prepare for the postseason or games got cancelled, they were the first school to offer us space. And beyond the court, when we started hosting our first home flag football games this past fall, this was the same school that allowed us to use their stadium, complete with press box and pep band.”

Superintendent Cindy Brown accepted the award on the school district’s behalf.

The Community Partner Award seeks to recognize the efforts of one group, one pair or one individual who has partnered with Tuscarawas County Special Olympics to help achieve the goals of the athletes or to increase the quality of training or programs provided to all participants. Recipients for this year were Alan and Holly Metzcar.

Athlete-leaders Rebekah Rothel and Rachael Russell presented this year’s award and said, “Many of you will probably recognize this year’s recipients. They are at every game, many of our practices, many of our competitions and many of our events. They are often the first ones here and the last ones to leave. They serve us, love us, cheer for us, take pictures and help us all. They organize fundraisers, promote the Rockets to anyone who will listen, and form bonds with us and our families. Never once have they asked for anything in return. Without their love and support, our organization would not be as strong as it is.”

The pink team was coached by Lance Richards (Belmont), Javanna Ramsey (Coshocton), Rich Lynch (Guernsey) and Ashley Metzcar (Tuscarawas Rockets Maroon). The green team was coached by Mary Coleman (Stark), Pat Dillon (Tuscarawas Rockets Silver), Tori Powell (Belmont) and Hunter Young (Belmont). Pep club coaches were Kat Arthurs (Tuscarawas), Joyce DerWort (Guernsey) and Rhonda VanFossen (Tuscarawas).

Members of the pink team’s pep club included Kaylee Arthurs, Chelsea Lefler, Liz Lippencott, Mary Miller, Anne Moore, Rebekah Rothel, Ginger Stalcup and Amanda Wills.

Members of the green team’s pep club included Dolly Alsept, Summer Donda, Kaylea Jones, Lexi Lacheta, Samantha Mastroine, Alexis Partridge, Stacey Shroyer, Christen Staten and Nicole Young.

Members of the pink’s basketball team were Alex Adkins, Gary Barnes, Jalen Berry, Russell Carpenter, Brandon Hahn, Kadyn Cook-Linamen, Adam Finch, LaTasha Fralin, Charlie Hall, Matthew Medley, Eric Pridgon, Stevie Rawlins and Austin Trimmer.

Members of the green’s basketball team were Dustin Anderson, Easton Dillon, Zac Ferguson, DJ Hall, Jason Hall, Deric Johnson, Donovan Justice, Jacob LaVigne, Jessica McKeen, Darnell Meely, Coalton Mobley, Jason Murray, Keshon Petteway-Courtright and Ty Yingling.

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