Santa Barbara’s Special Olympics floor hockey team wins gold

Special Olympics athlete Jose Castrejon demonstrates his Floor Hockey skills.

Special Olympics athlete Jose Castrejon demonstrates his Floor Hockey skills.

More than 2,000 athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators came together on Dec. 8 and 9 for the Special Olympics Southern California’s Fall Games held at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center and Sports Park, and The Rinks in Irvine.

Special guest, Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, attended and cheered on the athletes.

Athletes from Santa Barbara participated in several events. The Floor Hockey team went undefeated in their division, going 6-0 in games, and winning the gold medal for the Santa Barbara team led by Coaches Jaime Rutiaga, Ethan Lo, Tim Powers and Nina Limonchi. The outstanding player athlete for the team was Abraham Moreno of Dos Pueblos High School, who scored 14 goals throughout the weekend. The sport of Floor Hockey for those new to the sport, is a modified game of hockey, where athletes use a straight stick, like the end of a broom stick, to move a large sized puck with a hole in the middle, about the shape of a flat, large doughnut, passing the puck to teammates in the attempt to score a goal against their opponents.

In Soccer, the Santa Barbara team, SAB United, won 2 of 3 games under the leadership of seasoned Coaches Jerry Siegel, Brian Medel and Jane Beiner, took second place and were awarded silver medals. Athletes Simone DuMong, Juan Aleman, Kim Williams, Johnny Fuentes, and Johan Salgado scored for the team victories. Tennis team athletes Chris Evans, Ted Rudolph, Jolie De L’Arbre, Megan Meyer, Jacob Kuhn, Melissa Galbraith, and Sam Juregui all brought home Silver and Bronze Medals during their singles and doubles competitions. Coaches Dan Weiner and Sue Evans were on hand inspire the team.

“The Fall Games Championship is an exciting opportunity for the public to see our inspiring athletes compete and be impressed by their talents and courage,” said Sara Spataro, Special Olympics Santa Barbara Region Director. “These games are a great community event that provides a fun environment for everyone to enjoy sports competition, live entertainment, and experience the true meaning of sportsmanship. At the end of the day, win or loose, all of the athletes were smiling and having a great time. Each and every one of them felt great to have been a part of the Santa Barbara delegation to the Fall Games!”