COLUMBUS - One Special Olympian already was looking ahead to the next season Saturday after the Seneca County Opportunity Center's modified volleyball team took second place in its division.
After falling to Mahoning County's team in the gold-medal match, Lori Lutes, a player for Seneca County Opportunity Center, said she liked second place.
"We (will) do better next time," she said.
More than two dozen Special Olympians are representing Seneca County in this weekend's athletic competitions in Columbus.
Twenty athletes representing Seneca County Opportunity Center are competing in bocce, tennis, track and volleyball, and six athletes representing Tiffin Developmental Center are competing in bowling at Special Olympics.
The Arrows won two volleyball matches to get into the finals.
They defeated the Lorain Murray Ridge Raiders, 25-18, 23-25 and 15-13, and Clark Special Olympics, 25-22 and 25-16, before falling to Mahoning, 25-7 and 25-8. The team also lost to Mahoning in last year's gold-medal match.
The seven members of the Seneca Arrows volleyball team competed in the modified division.
Coach Andrea Klima said the modified competition involves a bigger and softer volleyball, and the service line is closer to the net. After one player successfully serves five points in a row, the team must rotate positions on the court.
"They do that rally scoring," she said.
Klima, who has been coaching Special Olympics teams in Columbus since 2000, said the athletes help each other and are working better together as a team. She said she thinks they encourage each other.
"They work very hard," said Cindy LaFontaine, another coach.
Lutes said the players help each other with hitting the ball back over the net.
"They're good," she said.
Four tennis players represented Seneca County Opportunity Center at Special Olympics and participated in singles and doubles competitions. While some centers' tennis players compete year-round, the tennis season at the center is seasonal, from April through June.
One coach who usually volunteers to help tennis players at Seneca County Opportunity Center was absent from Saturday's competition.
Anne Krupp, a Fostoria resident who is certified in wheelchair and Special Olympics tennis, is in Greece helping U.S. Special Olympian tennis players at the World Games.
"She's big into tennis. ... (She has) many, many years of experience," said Jeff McDaniel, the center's tennis coach.
McDaniel, who has been coaching Special Olympics sports for 26 years and is a supervisor at Seneca Re-Ad Industries Inc. in Fostoria, estimated Krupp has been helping him coach tennis at the center for seven or eight years.
"She loves being involved with Special Olympics," he said.
Two bowlers competed Saturday for Tiffin Developmental Center, and four are to compete today.
"One participant got a third place, and one got a fourth place. ... I hope tomorrow goes as well," coach Mark Webel said Saturday.
Webel, who has been coaching Special Olympians for nearly 25 years, said Special Olympics is a social event as well as a competition.
"Everybody had a great time," he said.
Starting July 1, a new face is to help organize local Special Olympics activities.
Lewis Hurst, superintendent of Seneca County Opportunity Center, said Jim Trainer of Crawford County is to be the athletic director for the newly formed Clearwater Athletic League, which is make up of athletes from Crawford, Marion, Morrow, Seneca and Wyandot counties.
He said Trainer is to work in conjunction with existing Special Olympics and activities coordinators.
"I think it'll be great," Hurst said.