Murrell to compete as county's first athlete at Special Olympics USA Summer Games
The Carteret County News-Times - 1/29/2018
CAPE CARTERET - Rachel Murrell steps up to the lane, bowling ball in hand. With a look of pure concentration, she sends the ball flying toward the pins at Mac Daddy's.
Ms. Murrell, of Beaufort, is training to compete in this year's Special Olympics USASummer Games. She is the first athlete from Carteret County to participate in the games.
Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It offers year-round training and competitions to 5.7 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.
Since 2006, Special Olympics USASummer Games have been held every four years in different cities throughout the United States.
This year's games will be in Seattle, Wash., Sunday-Friday, July 1-6. Ms. Murrell will travel with one of her coaches, Darlene Austin.
Athletes were selected for Special Olympics Team NC based on their performances in state-level competition over the last year.
The decision on who would compete was also based on their maturity level and how well they do away from home.
Each athlete will compete in one of 11 sports at USA Games: athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, Unified flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, swimming, tennis and volleyball.
Unified Sports allow individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete alongside each other.
Ms. Murrell and the rest of the Carteret County Special Olympics bowling team practice at Mac Daddy's in Cape Carteret.
She said she has been involved with Carteret County Special Olympics since she was 5 or 6 years old. She is now 46.
She said her favorite part of the sport is learning skills and what her coach, Ron Mailhoit, calls shaking hands with the pins, which is making sure the ball hits the pins.
"I like practicing and getting the opportunity to face my fears of getting the ball in the gutter," Ms. Murrell said.
She looks forward to the chance to play in this year's summer games.
"At first I was nervous, but now I'm hyped and excited," she said.
Ms. Murrell's teammates are excited for her, as well.
"I'm really happy for her," said Meaghan Burton.
"I'm going to be rooting for her," echoed Tiffany Mailhoit, the coach's daughter and a fellow teammate.
For Ms. Murrell to be approved to participate in the games, a family interview had to be conducted. She also had to pass a physical, and proper paperwork had to be filled out.
She also went to a training camp in the first week of January. The training camp focused on regular exercises, tips on nutrition and how to get in better shape for the week of activities.
Leading up to the games, Ms. Murrell will also work with coach Mailhoit to hone her skills.
"The main thing we are working on is consistency," coach Mailhoit said. "Everybody bowls different and every bowler has quirks.
Coach Mailhoit said they were working on balance and proper finger placement.
Ms. Murrell and Ms. Austin are accepting donations to help fund the trip, which costs $2,018 per person.
Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation for the trip can do so by contacting Ms. Austin at 252-808-3301 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a Go Fund Me page, www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/darlene-austin-2/2018teamnc.
For more information on the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, visit www.SpecialOlympicsUSAGames.org.
Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 228; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @meganCCNT.