This is a milestone season for the Kingston Shot Rocks.
Formed in 1998, the Special Olympics’ curling team is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Garrison Curling Club on the grounds of CFB Kingston.
“The athletes are individuals with intellectual difficulties,” said coach Bill McCormick, who’s been with the team since the day they were formed.
They’re a special group of 16 athletes who take to the ice with passion every Sunday afternoon at the Garrison facility.
“They’re a very enthusiastic group of athletes,” added McCormick who also coaches the Special Olympics golf and bocce ball teams.
“We like to instil confidence in every athlete, but at the same time stress the importance of fair play, etiquette and sportsmanship. That is extremely important in all our sports. Winning is nice, but it’s not the most important factor in our games and programs.
Among the athletes who love to curl is Yvon Clouthier.
“It’s all about teamwork,” said Clouthier, the lead for the 2012 Ontario Special Olympics championship team.
“It’s all about getting along with each other and having fun. I’ve learned to play all four positions. I have so much fun curling with the Shot Rocks.”
McCormick says it’s all about learning and everyone learns at a different pace. The coaches are there to teach and teach with patience.
“We will stick with them until they get it right,” added the face of Special Olympics in Kingston.
“We don’t put timelines on learning. Every Sunday we will teach the necessary skills to be a good curler. Then we take the time to play a couple of games. During those games, the coaches are there to observe and comment.”
READ MORE: Celebrating 50 years of Special Olympics
The Shot Rocks have won provincial championships in 2012 and again in 2016.
McCormick will take his team to the 2019 Ontario finals in January in Sault Ste. Marie.