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How athletes are enjoying fifth straight Special Olympics in Hall County
Gwinnett Special Forces
Cole Pierce of the Gwinnett Special Forces runs for third base during the Special Olympics Georgia State Fall Games at North Hall Park on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

Having trailed for most of the game, the Cobb County Bulldogs had a runner on third base with two outs in extra innings during the Special Olympics fall games Friday, Oct. 19.

Then, a base hit to right field scored the winning run, giving coach Phillip Hayes’ “overjoyed” and “ecstatic” Bulldogs the win, 11-10.

“(We) came back in the last two innings, got it tied up and then won it in extra (innings),” he said.

Hall County is hosting Special Olympics Georgia for the fifth year in a row, and roughly 2,000 coaches and athletes are expected at the various parks and venues.

It is also the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary. 

Sporting events, including bocce ball, cycling, golf and softball were held Friday, Oct. 19 and planned for Saturday, Oct. 20 at several county parks such as North Hall Park and Laurel Park. Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center will host the Special Olympics State Horse Show, and golfers will go to Chateau Elan.

“Everybody’s excited. They were ready to play. We got here early, so they were a little antsy. But they’re having a good time, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Gwinnett County coach Tracy Knot.

At North Hall and Laurel parks, teams took over the fields for bocce and softball.

Knot watched the bocce team Friday afternoon, the players eager after 10 weeks of practice. Athletes on both teams cheered and high-fived one another after each throw.

“They like to cheer each other on. These kids are great about having great sportsmanship,”

Pam Garrett and the teams from Haralson County had just arrived around 2 p.m. Friday after a three-hour trek to the Nopone Road park.

“They look forward to this. I look forward to this, and I don’t even play,” Garrett said.

Garrett said bocce presented an opportunity to compete for some who cannot play softball.

“They are all athletes, so whether they’re with me or they’re with another county, I believe you need to cheer them on. This is their time … and we try to have our athletes do the same,” she said.

Events will continue from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 and again at 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 21. 

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