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Special Olympian is all smiles
Gorsline, 28, named groups top athlete
Robbie Gorsline, 28, left, talks with friend Mark Floyd, 24, Thursday at the annual Special Olympics picnic at Laurel Park. Gorsline, who plays sports such as volleyball, softball, bowling and track, was named Athlete of the Year at the event. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Robbie Gorsline is sure that his volleyball team will do well at the upcoming Special Olympics state tournament. "My team’s the best. We’re going to Emory, and we’re gonna win," Gorsline said. The tournament, part of Georgia’s Summer Special Olympics, will be held from May 31 to June 1 at Emory University.

The 28-year-old volleyball player was honored by the Hall County Special Olympics as Athlete of the Year at a picnic Thursday at Laurel Park.

Special Olympics volunteer Mark Floyd said Gorsline’s positive attitude and his aggressive play are what earned him the honor.

"He is always willing to play hard," said Floyd, who plays on Gorsline’s volleyball team.

Some 175 people gathered for the picnic to honor Gorsline and recognize other members of the Hall County Special Olympics program. Robbie’s father, Alex Gorsline, has volunteered with the Hall County Special Olympics program since it started 20 years ago.

He said his son learned how to perform athletic moves just by watching others.

"Robbie was watching volleyball one day on the television, and the players were throwing the ball in the air and spiking it," Alex Gorsline said. "(At his first volleyball practice) he had never volleyed before, but he threw the ball up in the air and spiked it."

In addition to participating in the Special Olympics program for the past 15 years, Robbie Gorsline is an altar server at his church and a First Degree Knight of Columbus. He also was a member of the Community Emergency Response Team.

"He’s always got a smile on his face," said Steve Hutson, Special Olympics’ interim athletic director. "That’s what the Special Olympics is all about. They come out; they got smiles on their faces, and they compete."

Special Olympics participants range in age from 7 to 55, and have the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports throughout the year including bocceball, bowling, volleyball and baseball.

For more information about the Hall County Special Olympics, contact Alex Gorsline at