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Athlete Experience at the 2016 Summer Games

My name is Kate Bove, and I am a 27-year-old Chittenden athlete.  I have been competing in Special Olympics Vermont for many years.  The sports I have participated in are track and field, swimming, basketball, downhill and cross country skiing, and most recently, bocce.  In 2003 I was chosen to compete in the World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland, and in 2014 I was chosen to go to New Jersey for the USA Summer Games.  Both of these experiences have made a huge impact on my life, and I will always treasure them.

Training and Preparations

This year I competed on the bocce team for Summer Games.  The Chittenden team practiced on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 at UVM.  The practice began with walking and stretching, and then we spent the rest of the time playing bocce.  At each practice I learned something new, and had fun doing it.  Team Chittenden had some very good bocce players, and I was honored to be on the field with them.  There were also a few other new athletes, so I felt happy that I wasn’t the only one.  The best part, however, was getting one of the unmistakable Hawaiian shirts that the Chittenden bocce team is famous for.

Competition Experience

The competition at the games was intense, and there were some very experienced teams on the field.  My team was the Chittenden Jumping Jaguars.  We lost three games and won two, which earned us 4th place overall.  On our last game, we were absolutely smoked by the opposition.  Another hard thing about the competition is that it rained all day on Sunday, so the schedule was tighter.   Despite the conditions, we made it through the competition, and did what we needed to do.  It was a very humbling experience for me.

Favorite moments

The State Summer Games is not just about the competition.  On Friday night the opening ceremonies took place in Patrick Gymnasium.  We had a parade of athletes, a few guest speakers and entertainment.  Some of the highlights included a beautiful rendition of the National anthem, the Cocek brass band, and Olympian Andy Newell sharing his experience.  None of this, however, came close to our own Senator Patrick Leahy declaring the Games officially open.

Another big highlight of the competition was Saturday night’s Victory Dance.  The theme this year was Hollywood, and several people dressed up for the Red Carpet, myself included.  I had fun dancing with everyone, and being with people from other teams.  We had an excellent DJ, and some great tunes were played.  I even got to do a slow dance with someone, and that was particularly special.  The only downside was that there were balloons on the floor, and eventually all of them were popped.  Other than that, the dance was really fun, and something I look forward to every year.

Goals for Summer Games

My goals for Summer Games were to do my best and have fun.  I am happy that my team did as well as they could and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Competing in a new sport

This was the first time I competed in bocce.  I was a swimmer for well over a decade, and needed a change of pace, so I tried bocce and am glad I did.  Swimming has a very different dynamic than bocce for many reasons.  One, bocce is team based and swimming is individually based.  Two, the competition is much more relaxed in bocce, and we don’t have to scramble around so much.  Finally, I don’t go home after bocce practice freezing cold and smelling like chlorine.

All in all, it was a good weekend, and I look forward to next year’s Summer Games.

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