To serve and defend.
Last month, the Madison County Tigers Special Olympics saluted the hard work of local First Responders as they took on members of London’s Fire and Police Departments in a volleyball match.
Soon they will be looking to be the ones to defend something in a whole different way.
Next week, the Tigers Unified Volleyball squad will be taking part in the 2017 USA Volleyball Tournament, to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The team is made up of individuals served by the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) as well as partners from the community.
The Tigers will be participating in the nationwide tournament during Memorial Day weekend May 26-31.
There will be a little bit of intrigue with this trip, however, as Madison County finds itself in the enviable position of being the defending National Champions — a title they earned at last year’s tournament held in Orlando, Florida.
“As reigning champs we have a big target painted on our back,” said MCBDD’s Lincoln Comer, Director of Special Olympics and Community Recreation. “Teams like Texas and Georgia will be looking for a little ‘volleyball retribution.’”
In addition to capturing the national crown last year, the Tigers won the 2016 Division I State of Ohio Unified Volleyball Title.
The following athletes and partners will be representing Madison County (and the State of Ohio) at the 2017 USAV Tournament: Mike Elfrink, Paul Hiles, Shawn Stewart, John Zeeck, Alexis Comer, Lincoln Comer, Jessica Thompson, Nate Gonzalez and Chris Zeeck. They are coached by Jason Shingler.
“We need to have more practice, we need to keep working on our teamwork,” said Special Olympian John Zeeck. “I hope the other teams are tough — I’m up for a challenge.”
The Tigers have conducted a number of fundraisers throughout the year to assist with the trip — including a Fudge Sale with Fine Designs and Interiors, and most recently a submarine sandwich sale in conjunction with Cappy’s Pizza.
Contributors to enhancing the Tigers’ trip include Deer Creek Honey Farms Ltd., London Police Department, Wendy’s, and Coughlin Automotive.
Comer does not know yet who his squad will be playing, but the mystery is part of what makes it so great.
“Coaches have already been informed that there will only be two brackets so it’s hard to tell how this year’s Open will shake out,” Comer said. “We are excited to play whoever they put in front of us.”
For more information regarding Madison County Special Olympics, please contact Lincoln Comer at 740-852-7052, ext. 1917.
Founded in 1928, USA Volleyball is a Colorado incorporated nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) as the National Governing Body for the disciplines of beach volleyball, indoor volleyball and sitting volleyball in the United States. USA Volleyball has over 315,000 registered members, 12,000 teams and 5,300 clubs nationwide.