UNIVERSITY PARK - A smile.
For most of today's youth, it doesn't take much to get a grin out once in a while.
But for the participants in the 43rd Annual Special Olympics Summer Games at Penn State University, that can come to be a challenge. For three days on the Penn State campus however, smiles abound among the hundreds of kids having the time of their life.
Sentinel photo by TIM?SHUMAKER
Tracy Foy, a member of the Mifflin County Huskies Special Olympics basketball team, takes a shot during a state games contest Friday at Penn State.
Take any scholastic sporting event. You always see players frustrated and complaining to coaches or officials. Today's youth take a lot of things for granted. But that doesn't happen with the Special Olympics. This is their World Series - their Super Bowl. With heart, and a whole lot of energy, dreams do come true.
Mifflin County sent a group to Penn Sate this weekend to make their dreams to come true. Those dreams came true for the Mifflin County Huskies 3-on-3 basketball team.
Prior to the team's first game of the day Friday, echos were ringing throughout the Intramural building on the Penn State campus. Chants such as, "Take it to 'em" and "Never give up" signified the start of the Huskies' chance at gold.
On the team are four exuberant youths: Walter Snyder, David Fye, Tracy Foy and Bobby Fisher. Each team member has something different from the other to offer.
The Huskies made a nice turnaround after dropping their first game, 16-11, to Bethlehem Wolfpack II in the morning session, winning against The Hotshots 20-8 to split their first day of competition. Even after the action concluded in the loss you would never know the outcome - high fives and cheering continued from the Husky team.
"At the beginning of the game I was thinking," Fye said. "And then I just had fun and that's all that matters."
In the latter half of Mifflin County's basketball doubleheader, one might think they were watching the NBA finals. The Huskies lit up the scoreboard early and often in a 20-8 rout. With teamwork and the most heart that has possibly ever been on the hardwood, the Huskies arrived.
Coach Kenny Varner said it was the best game the Huskies had played to date.
"That second game was awesome," Snyder said after the win.
The "never give up" mentality took over on the Penn State campus for the locals. Foy, Fisher and Snyder each made key buckets in the win. Fye's defense was big and the Hotshots could not handle his intensity.
"That game was the bomb," Fisher added.
Despite the loss in the first game, Mifflin County certainly had its fair share of highlights. Snyder and Foy each buried threes at crucial moments in the game to help their team out. Fisher made his mark in the paint, controlling any rebound within his grasp. And Fye was the Husky hustler.
Foy's three gave the Huskies an brief lead early in the first moments of play.
"That made me really happy," she said. "I'm glad we were able to play like that."
Snyder's three certainly had the flair for the dramatic. As one of the shortest players on the court, Snyder launched his shot over the outstretched arm of the defender. The result: plus three for the Huskies. The sound of his teammates let everyone in the State College area know it was buried.
"I was very surprised when I hit that three," Snyder explained. "He was right in my face. But I wasn't going to let him get the best of me."
The big man inside for the Huskies, Fisher, controlled the rebounds for most of the game. With his excitement, the Huskies were able to keep the game close coming down to the wire.
But in the end, the opponents were a little too much for Mifflin County to handle. But it wasn't because they played with more heart or energy. In fact, it was because the opponents' shots were falling. With Varner at their side, they did never give up.
"We played pretty good on defense," Fisher said. "That was good. I totally had fun and I always hope we can get some baskets and rebounds."
Let's face it, in today's society winning is everything. Getting a trophy is everything. Maybe Mifflin County returns with some hardware. Maybe not. But in the end, they know they did their best and played with heart throughout the week.
The Huskies have two more games this morning as the 43rd Special Olympics state games wraps up today in University Park.