Special Olympics team wins state flag football championship
County league offers variety of sports
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — There’s no doubt about it — the Ohio Valley loves sports. But there is one team that people may not know much about.
The Belmont County Special Olympics Eagles Flag Football Team recently won the 2019 Special Olympics Ohio Flag Football Division 3 State Championship. Head coach Victoria Powell said this is only the second year for the school to have a flag football team. Last year’s team wasn’t formed in time to be eligible to compete for such a title, but this year they did.
“The players are very dedicated. They work very hard and practice twice a week all year-round,” Powell said.
Powell said the team’s final game was held at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“They got to run out of the tunnel to start their game,” she said.
The flag football team includes: Austin Trimmer, Lance Marino, Luke Pomranski, Mary Miller, Pat Jobb, Marcus Angle, Greg Hocking and Harry Porter.
Powell said the team members were excited about their 36-14 victory against the Wood County, Ohio, team.
“Tears were shed and there were a bunch of hugs,” she said. “This is the first state championship they won, and they all got medals. They are still talking about it.”
Powell said she hopes more people can get involved with and support teams with the Belmont County Special Olympics. In addition to flag football there is also a basketball team, bowling, and track and field, which includes bocce.
Powell said she tells her players to go out and have fun.
“We want to get more people in the community involved in the home games, to see what our guys are capable of doing,” she said. “We also have a good team for basketball this year; we’re probably going to state.”
Powell said the Belmont County teams compete against other Special Olympics teams in other local counties.
“I hope more people come and support the Eagles. They truly deserve it,” she said.
She said those 8 years old and older and with a disabilities diagnosis are eligible to join a team. They do not have to be enrolled in the School of Hope in St. Clairsville, which is used as the teams’ home base.
Basketball games are held at the School of Hope in St. Clairsville. The football team does not have a home field for practices, but it does practice at Red Devil stadium. The recreation league meets at noon Saturdays at the School of Hope.
Virgil Yingling, Belmont County Special Olympics local coordinator, said people with a range of disabilities are part of the teams, including those with simple learning disabilities, those on the autism spectrum and people with physical disabilities.
“We have some who are 60 and 70 years old,” he said.
The championship game was enjoyable for all.
“It was neat for our guys to play at the stadium under the lights,” he noted.