TRURO – It’s an exciting summer for some members of the Cobequid Hornets.
Eight of the athletes will head to Antigonish to compete in the Special Olympics 2018 Canada Summer Games.
For Jeremy Cole, this competition will be the first for him at the national level. He’s one of five Hornets who have formed Team Nova Scotia to compete in basketball. Rounding out the basketball roster are four players from Kings.
“I’m looking forward to working harder against the other teams,” said Cole, 23. “And meeting new players.”
For the past two years, Cole has been a member of the Hornets’ basketball team. His friend, Nathan Legere, convinced him to join the team and Cole hoped it would assist him in losing some weight. Legere, of Nuttby, is also attending nationals for basketball, along with James McDonald, of Stewiacke, Marc McNevin, of Truro, and Stewiacke’s Cameron Byrne.
Other Hornets athletes include Brianna Harris, of Valley, and Truro’s Anthony James both competing in athletics, and swimmer Matthew Hunter, of Lower Harmony.
“It’s fun,” Byrne, 17, said about the team. “It’s fun to get to practice and hang out with all your friends.”
For the past four years, Byrne has been a member of the basketball team, and will hold the role of team captain when they compete in Antigonish.
He can’t wait to compete against the other provinces, and has fun working with his teammates.
“They’re good to count on, when you need them to block people and take the ball,” said the point guard.
To qualify for nationals, the basketball players walked away from last year’s provincial games with a silver medal. Only those athletes on that team are able to attend nationals this year, says assistant coach Christina Jones, which is why they teamed up with players from Kings.
“This would qualify us for worlds next year,” said Jones, noting nationals and worlds alternate years they’re held.
Jason Crewe has been the coach of the Hornets basketball team since 2012, with Jones now in her third year.
Originally from Truro, Crewe moved back to the area and wanted to contribute to the community. He came across Special Olympics at a volunteer fair.
“This crew is one of the best group of guys,” said Crewe. “They want to win, they’re willing to win. We do fitness checks every week and they’re getting stronger.”
“They’re improving their record since I started,” added Jones.
The basketball players won’t know who their competition is until they arrive at the games, nor do they know what division they’ll be in. All they know so far is that they won’t be competing against a second Nova Scotia team, this time from Halifax. Jones said they won gold at the provincial games last year, which puts Halifax in a higher division than the Hornets.
“There’s a skills assessment that all the teams send in,” she said, adding there will be some practice games prior to competition to help place them in proper divisions. “It’s all fair.”
She said it’s the camaraderie that she loves to see at the Special Olympics games.
“It’s heartwarming to see. The spirit they have with all the teams is just terrific.”
While the sport is co-ed, it just so happens that all members of the Hornets basketball player this year are male. Ages of the current players range from about 14 to 25, however there is no age limit for Special Olympics athletes.