October 02, 2013 - By Maddie Stroin
Review Special Writer
This fall, the Lake Orion and Oxford Special Olympics teams combined into one dynamic force called the Wild Dragons.
The Special Olympics Program runs throughout the year, but during the fall the athletes participate in soccer games. The teams have practiced together for the past three years. The players from both towns enjoy practicing together and the coaches love working with all the athletes.
"They don't like to compete against each other because they are all such close friends," Jeanne DiCicco, coach of the Senior Skilled Team, said.
The increased number of players also allows the teams to be divided based on skill level.
Numerous teams minimize injuries and allow athletes to reach their full potential.
There are now three teams: the Senior Skilled Team, the Senior Developmental Team, and the Junior Team.
The senior teams are comprised of athletes 16 years and older; there are a few athletes playing into their 30s. The junior team ranges from ages eight to 16 years-old. In total, there are around 40 Special Olympic athletes playing for the Wild Dragons.
The players train every week on Wednesday nights at Seymour Lake Park. This past weekend, the Wild Dragons traveled to Farmington Hills and competed in their first tournament as a united front.
The Senior Skilled Team lost its first game, but persevered and ended the day with two victories.
"(Our first tournament) was priceless, amazing, and awesome. The bonds that were made between the two teams were overwhelming with emotion. Every person and athlete just glowed with excitement. The entire day was better than any blessing," DiCicco said.
At the end of October the Special Olympics teams will compete in the State Soccer Tournament in Warren. The coaches are also working on scheduling games with other teams in the area, like Rochester and Clarkston.
The Lake Orion Boys and Girls Soccer Teams host the largest event of the year for the Special Olympics Program. This night allows all three teams to play "under the lights" against competitive teams.
Usually, the Lake Orion and Oxford teams play one another on this night, but this year for the first time they will emerge onto the field as teammates.
This combination of teams worked to bring two communities together. Athletes and fans alike bonded and came together.
One may ask what sound a Wild Dragon makes. These Wild Dragons laugh and cheer and even roar.