Olympians show why competition is more than just a special day

-Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Hans Madsen Becky Laube, of Webster City, carries the torch during the opening ceremonies Thursday morning at the Special Olympics North Central Area Basketball Skills Competition at Butler Elementary School. Becky Laube, of Webster City, carries the torch during the opening ceremonies Thursday morning at the Special Olympics North Central Area Basketball Skills Competition at Butler Elementary School.

FORT DODGE – Becky Laube, of Webster City brought plenty of experience to her role as the official torch bearer at the Special Olympics North Central Basketball Skills Competition Thursday morning in the Butler Elementary School gym.

“I’ve done this for the last five years,” she said. “I get so excited to do it every time.”

While a past surgery keeps her from participating in the basketball skills event, she’s still an active competitor in track and bowling.

For Laube, like many of the young athletes, the event is about much more than just testing their basketball skills.

“I enjoy meeting new people at all the events,” she said.

Paul McMahon, of Algona, came to watch a family member’s friend compete. He volunteered to help take down the youth hoop bracket so the competitors could use the regulation height basket.

“It gives these kids something of their own,” he said. “It’s a place where everyone fits in.”

That inclusion not only includes about 14 student teams from Fort Dodge, but also about 12 teams from other schools.

Noah Bloomquist, 9, of Dayton, came to the Special Olympics with his team from Southeast Valley. He attends the grade school in Dayton.

He let it be known that he had practiced at home and that shooting baskets were things he did to prepare.

After he finished his basket shooting, he looked back over how he did.

“Really well,” he said.

Morgan Cox, 19, of Fort Dodge, was another student athlete who had spent some time getting ready.

She worked on her game at home, both shooting and dribbling.

Her mom, Beth Cox, came along.

“I’m just encouraging her,” Beth Cox said.

That encouragement included coaxing a good luck kiss. After all, a mom kiss has been demonstrated to improve basketball skills time and time again.

Tom Bethke, of Fort Dodge, was recording his son, Dylan Bethke, with his cell phone while the 18-year-old shot baskets.

He agrees it’s not just about the competition.

“It’s the friendships,” Tom Bethke said.

His son also competes in track and cross country for Fort Dodge Senior High, where he’s done quite well.

He’s also done very well in Special Olympic competition.

“He’s been to state,” the father said proudly.

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