Local Special Olympians competing at the state competition include (front row, from left) Isaiah Jacobs, Ruby Jones and Jordan Chastain. Back row (from left) are Michael Adams, Cathy Davidson, Dakoda Silvers, Steven Berger, Arlie Jones and Tim Martin.

SCOUTING AROUND: Athletes medal at state Special Olympics

   While he had participated in Special Olympics since elementary school, this year’s N.C. Summer Games was Jordan Chastain’s first time competing on the state level. The outgoing Murphy Middle School eighth-grader enjoyed spending time with his friends from other schools, like Dakoda Silvers of Andrews, and making new friends. The most exciting part was getting to stand on the top of the podium to receive his gold medal in the 50-meter walk.
   The excitement continued when he returned for the last week of school and was able to show his medal to classmates and teachers.
   “They said it looked awesome, and I liked that,” Chastain said.
   Chastain brought home one of the five gold medals won by Cherokee County athletes at the Games held at N.C. State University in Raleigh the first weekend in June. Eight athletes from Cherokee County competed, and all brought home a medal or ribbon.
   “I am always impressed with how well they do. They enjoy each others’ company and make new friends all across the state,” said Susanne Parker, local coordinator for Special Olympics Cherokee County. “I am so proud of all our athletes because they represent the best of Cherokee County. They trained hard, competed well, and played hard.”
   In athletics – or track and field – events, Chastain, Silvers and Isaiah Jacobs were the top athletes in their levels, and won medals in every event they tried. In addition to his gold, Chastain also won silver medals in the 25-meter dash and his favorite event, the softball throw. Silvers won a gold medal in the standing long jump and silver medals in the softball throw and 50-meter walk. Jacobs took home one of each medal- gold for the softball throw, silver for the 50-meter dash, and bronze in the 25-meter dash. Katie Erwin was the athletics coach.
   Cherokee County had not had bowling for several years, but both athletes excelled. Tim Martin won the gold medal, while Steven Berger took silver. They were coached by Cathy Davidson.
   Volleyball skills was the toughest event for our athletes, as there was more competition, said Parker, who coached the sport. Arlie Jones won a fourth-place ribbon, while Ruby Jones won a bronze medal and Michael Adams won a gold medal.
   In addition to their events, athletes attended the opening ceremonies, where Gov. Roy Cooper spoke, participated in the Healthy Athletes activities, and enjoyed the dance. They also got to see the variety of sports in which the 1,900 athletes across the state participate.
   “I loved it. It was fun getting out there and doing a lot of stuff,” Chastain said, adding he’d like to try bocce, volleyball and swimming after seeing those events at the state games. “I wish it could have lasted longer.”

Andrews High School needs athletic sponsors
   The athletes of Andrews High School’s past are a major part of the renovations taking place in locker rooms over the summer. Plans are to display the great athletes and coaches in digital mural vinyl on the walls, and to have athletes honored as sponsors of new lockers.
   “We decided to sell sponsorships of the lockers to former athletes or their families,” athletic director Lance Bristol said.
   The new lockers are arriving in a few weeks, and Bristol said they already have about 20 sponsors for the 55 new lockers – 40 for boys, 15 for girls. Sponsorships are only $200, even though each locker costs $214.88. Sponsors will be recognized with a metal plate engraved with their name, number, position and years played at the school. Families of former athletes may sponsor a locker in the athlete’s name.
   His goal is to have every locker sponsored by the start of the school year.
   Bristol added the school saved $1,500 on the project by avoiding shipping costs since they plan on picking up the lockers at the company’s distribution center in Atlanta.
   The boys had lockers that were at least 32 years old, while the girls didn’t even have lockers. The new lockers are expected to last about 30 years.
   Bristol also plans to replace the tile in locker rooms, bathrooms and showers, and is working on being awarded a grant to pay for those costs.
   The finishing touch will be the vinyl murals of Andrews’ greats, like coaches Hugh Hamilton and Ken Solesbee as well as individual standouts and the state champion football and basketball teams. This is expected to cost about $6,000.
   Bristol is also raising money for the renovations to the locker rooms and the weight room through athletic sponsorships and the A Night With the Cats fundraiser Aug. 12, featuring College Football Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Moore. Tickets for the event are $100, and include a Andrews High School Athletics season pass, which alone is $75. Attendees will enjoy a steak dinner served by students on the football, volleyball and cross country teams.
   Bristol added the improvements in the facilities will also help improve the self esteem of the student athletes, which is reflected on the field or court.
   “Any time you invest in your future... everybody wins,” Bristol said.
   For sponsorship or ticket information, contact Bristol at the school at 321-5415, Ext. 2102; through email at lance.bristol@cherokee.k12.nc.us; or by messaging Andrews High School Athletics on Facebook.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.