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Marion Co. Special Olympic Basketball Tips-Off

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  • Andrew Clay

    Andrew Clay

    Andrew is the Monongalia and Preston County reporter, as well as a Sports reporter.

FAIRMONT -

March Madness is in full frenzy a little early this year in Marion County, as the Special Olympics basketball season is now in full swing.

For the third straight year, the Marion County Special Olympics tipped-off their season in style, in the Falcon Center at Fairmont State, with a round-robin tournament and three-point shooting contest.

"Well I've been with special Olympics ever since I was 6-years old," says Marion County athlete Robert Cottingham. "I like it. I play basketball, football and track too."

"I have a brother who is a special Olympian and these people don't get the opportunity to play and even compete," says tournament director Joe Petrucci. "It's difficult to find a gym, and when they (teams) hear about this tournament we're going to have at Fairmont State, they are thrilled to come here and play."

Five local counties – Monongalia, Harrison, Marion, Upshur, and Marshall – represented teams at the tournament spanning three divisions.

The game consisted four, eight-minute quarters, team cheerleaders, and a whole bunch of excited players and fans.

"Oh, they're so excited," says a Marion County coach Sue Rowley. "I have a little boy, and the first time he's going to play is today, he's 8-years-old and he's just so excited."

Many teams are playing for a whole lot more than just fun; at the end of March teams from the entire state will come together competing for the state title.

"We're going to get it...Because we need our championship back," says Marion County player Jesse Martin.

"They all want to be champions," says Rowley, "and you know, they all are champions, they really are."

Of course, those championships would not be possible without the tons volunteers and organizations that coach the teams, and support the Special Olympics.

"I just really enjoy doing it," says Rowley. "I've been doing it for many years, and I love it. I love seeing their smiling faces."