Ken Brown keeps coming back because of the smiles on their faces.
“You can see it in their eyes when they’ve accomplished something,” Ken said. “To see them happy, that’s why I keep coming back.”
Special Olympics B.C. Kamloops curlers Megan Gourley and Olivia were among those smiling last week at practice at McArthur Island Curling Club, with anticipation building ahead of the big event.
Kamloops will play host to the Special Olympics BC Winter Games from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4, with about 500 athletes expected to compete in eight sports: 5-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating.
Olivia, a first-time Games participant, and two-time Games veteran Megan will represent the city in curling action.
“I love the people and I love that it gives me the chance to build my confidence,” Olivia said. “It means so much. It meant the world to me when I found out [I’d be competing at the Games].”
Ken Brown and daughter Corryn are accomplished curlers, provincial champions who have been giving back to the sport for about 10 years through coaching Special Olympians.
“It’s a very rewarding experience,” Corryn said. “Coming from a high level of curling, it really kind of puts things in perspective and it makes me remember why I started — the love of the game and the love of camaraderie.”
Megan is looking forward to her third experience at the multi-sport event, which will run with the help of about 800 volunteers and 150 coaches and mission staff.
Register to volunteer for the Games online at sobcgameskamloops.ca. Experience is not required.
“It’s about having fun,” Megan said. “Olivia is really good. We have lots of stuff in common. I stay fit for my sports and stay healthy.”
Corryn said Megan has shown great improvement and is excelling in the skip role, embracing strategy and putting in practice time to get better.
“I learned how to slide,” Megan said. “You have to put your leg out and make sure you’re stable or you fall on your butt. Yeah, not good.”
Special Olympics BC provides year-round training and competitive opportunities in 18 sports to more than 5,200 athletes of all ages, offering programming in 55 communities across the province.
Ken said about 15 athletes are regulars at curling practice.
“For some of them, it’s all about winning,” Ken said. “It all depends which athletes you ask. They’re always happy to see you when you get here. It’s always nice to see them improve. The reward is just being with them out here.”
For Olivia and Megan, it’s all about having fun.
“We’re best friends,” Olivia said. “I love the people. It’s not about winning all the time. It’s about having a good attitude.”