Oswego’s Wildcats shine at Special Olympics state competitions

Members of the Oswego SD308 School Board applaud individual gold and silver Special Olympics athletes Andrew Bjes, Lacey Sawitoski and Emma Sanchez-Giron.

The Oswego Wildcats Basketball Junior and Silver teams recently were recognized by the Oswego School District 308 Board for their achievements in the Special Olympics State Competition held in Bloomington-Normal in March.

The Junior Wildcats secured a silver medal in Junior Division 3 and the Silver Basketball Team took home a bronze medal in High School Division 5. In addition, three student-athletes medalled in individual events.

Thompson Junior High School students Lacey Sawitoski and Andrew Bjes both earned a gold medal in their respective divisions and Homestead Elementary student Emma Sanchez-Giron brought back a silver medal in her division.

Athletes competing in the individual skills competition participate in target pass, 10 meter dribble as well as spot shot and complete each event without assistance. The athlete’s final score is a cumulative score of the three contests.

“When our athletes are practicing or competing, you see a sense of pride and determination,” Jessica Wade, District 308 Special Olympics coordinator and athletic director, said in a news release from the district. “In addition, they are so willing to help one another when needed and cheer each other on. It really is like a big family.”

Athletes are eligible to begin playing on the Junior team when they are 8 years old and continue through junior high. Following junior high, athletes can move on to the silver team, where they represent either Oswego High School, Oswego East High School or Pathways Transitions Center.

As for the skills competition, athletes may participate from 8 to 22 years old while attending District 308 schools. The skills team is available to athletes who may not be ready for a team sport, but are interested in learning about a specific sport.

This option gives them the opportunity to practice with peers while developing and mastering key skills.

“The Special Olympics brings out a confidence in athletes that you only see on the court. It also brings out a joy that is contagious and inspires you to want to do more so that confidence and joy can occur again,” Wade said. “Being part of the Special Olympics family is an honor.”

Special education teacher aides Katie Sobottka and Larry Petrella, along with coaches Michael Folsom, Leann Teckenbrock, Bill Confiliano and TJ Wade helped encourage and cheer athletes on to success at the state competition, according to the release.