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Special Olympics gold and bronze for Nipissing First Nation students

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Third from left is Breydon Solomon of Nipissing First Nation, winning a gold medal with the St. Joseph Scollard Hall boys soccer team at the 2023 Special Olympics Ontario School Championships. – Photo submitted.

By Kelly Anne Smith

NORTH BAY — Two Nipissing First Nation students representing St. Joseph-Scollard Hall Catholic Secondary School won medals at the 2023 Special Olympics Ontario School Championships.

Breydon Solomon won gold in traditional soccer while Tessa Tuulos won bronze in unified basketball.

Taking place in Kingston, Ont., on June 6 to 8, the 2023 Special Olympics Ontario School Championships welcomed over 600 Special Olympics athletes for the games.

“It was the provincial games,” says Frank Ricciuti, the Special Education Lead at St. Joseph-Scollard Hall. “We were in charge of posting the two qualifiers for basketball and soccer and in charge of putting the teams together… Initially, Scollard hosted the qualifiers for basketball and soccer and Tessa’s team qualified for the unified basketball team from the region.”

In Grade 9, this was Breydon’s first time travelling for the competition says Ricciuti.

“Breydon’s team qualified for the traditional soccer team to go on the Kingston trip to represent North Bay high school.”

Soccer coach Andy Hazelwood called the games exciting.

“It was an intense tournament played in the right spirit with St. Joseph-Scollard Hall coming out on top, winning gold in a competitive final.”

Ricciuti says the athletes had a great experience.

“You have to give Special Olympics credit for the amount of work they put into it. It’s a very organized event,” he says. “The students were able to explore some independence. They all had their own rooms. They went out for dinner. The Special Olympics committee organized trivia nights and eighties themed dances, and participate in the sport as well while they were there.”

Ricciuti says over 50 schools participated.

“It’s a big event.”

The City of Chatham-Kent and the Chatham-Kent Police Service will host the 2024 Provincial School Championships. During the 2023/2024 academic year, over 7,000 high school athletes will compete across Ontario to qualify for the 2024 School Championships.

Schoolchamps.ca says, “school programs instill confidence, contribute to a healthier lifestyle, build lifelong friendships, and create a more inclusive society.”

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