Special Olympics competitors claim first-ever awards

Special Olympics competitors from South Garland and Rowlett high schools recently brought home some special bling from the Area 10 basketball tournament. They are the first two Garland ISD teams to compete in this contest, and they did not only participate. Rowlett High School won gold in the Colonial Athletic Association Division, while South Garland High School won bronze in the Conference USA Division.

GISD’s students were among 109 teams to play in the Area 10 tournament, which shows just how impressive their accomplishments were. They did not come without hard work, however. Coaches say they practiced four months before the big day.

“We talked about teamwork, how to be a good sport, how to behave if we lost and how to behave if we won,” said RHS coach Charity Griffin. “Watching the kids experience these ‘regular’ life moments, put their skills into practice and succeed as a team was one of the most amazing moments of my life! The gold medal is nice, but I'm so much more proud of all they accomplished as a team.”

“Involvement in Special Olympics of Texas has been an opportunity to introduce students to events that they can participate in for a lifetime, not just while in school,” added SGHS coach Sally Barber. “It has been amazing to watch students built stronger interpersonal relationships through athletic competition outside of the school day. They improve communication, which is a significant part of their vocational training as well.”

The Garland ISD Board of Trustees recognized both teams with an Evidence of Excellence award May 27. See a list of award-winning team members below. In addition to basketball, the district’s Special Olympics partnership includes bowling and track and field events as well.

Rowlett High School

  • Deric Caldwell
  • Brennon Coby
  • Tanner Cross
  • Shawn Digioia
  • Preston Hanvey
  • Ben Keltner
  • Kari Nganga
  • Gabe Pagaduan
  • Coach Charity Griffin

South Garland High School

  • Keyarai Allen
  • Hunter Carnes
  • Miguel Cortez
  • Peter Holovak
  • Michael Lazek
  • Maria Martinez
  • Ashley Ramos
  • Daniela Tapia
  • Coach Sally Barber
  • Coach Lolita Green
  • Coach Glen Rutaquio