×

Special champions

Students get to show off basketball skills

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Noah Bloomquist, 8, of Dayton, shows off his shooting skills Friday afternoon during the Iowa Special Olympics North Central Basketball Skills Tournament at Butler Elementary School Friday morning. Bloomquist is a fifth-grader at Southeast Valley school in Burnside.

About 100 students from more than a dozen schools in the area dribbled, shot and passed their way into championship status Friday afternoon at the Iowa Special Olympics 2020 North Central Basketball Skills tournament at Butler Elementary School.

The tournament had been postponed one day due to the extreme windchills Thursday, but neither the delay or the weather did anything to cool off their enthusiasm.

After Joshua Noll, 14, a seventh-grader at Storm Lake Middle School. carried the traditional torch around the gym with the athletes following him, they got down to competition.

Morgan Cox, 21, is competing as an adult.

She said she enjoys the time with friends and family, learning new things and that basketball is one of her favorite sports.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Morgan Cox, of Fort Dodge, is all smiles after completing her dribbling skills event at the Iowa Special Olympics North Central Basketball Skills Tournament at Butler Elementary School Friday morning.

Her mom, Beth Cox, was cheering from the sidelines.

“It’s just fun watching them compete,” Beth Cox said. “It’s a big day for the kids.”

For her daughter, coming back to compete also gave her a chance to reconnect with her teachers from the Fort Dodge Community School District and friends from her school days as well.

Liz Rusher, co-area director for Special Olympics of Iowa, said the blue ribbon winners Friday would go on to compete later at the state competition.

Participation offers the students many benefits.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Elora Fierke, 17, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, helps keep score for the athletes during the Iowa Special Olympics North Central Basketball Skills Tournament at Butler Elementary School. Fierke was among dozens of students who volunteered their time at the event.

“They really look forward to this,” Rusher said. “They love Special Olympics. They’re proud of their ribbons. It helps with self esteem and gives them a chance to form friendships with kids from other schools.”

Running a basketball tournament requires a lot of volunteers. Many of the those who help out, like Elora Fierke, 17, are students at Fort Dodge Senior High.

“It makes me feel really happy to help,” Fierke said. “I love working with the kids. I makes you feel blessed. They give it all.”

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)