For members of the Harvey County Wildcats softball team, including four Marion County residents, practice is just as much fun as playing.
The team participated this weekend in a Special Olympics state softball tournament in Wichita.
Gene Peterson, Shawn Jones, and Jennifer Dies of Hillsboro, and Kade Warner of Florence practiced with the team and played in three games.
“Skill testing is set by Special Olympics,” case manager Jaci McCelland of Newton said.
Participants are tested and placed in sports where they can excel.
Warner, 24, likes playing centerfield.
“This was my first year for playing with the Wildcats,” he said. “I also play basketball and track.”
Jennifer Peugh, 30, of Peabody, wasn’t a member of the team but enjoys playing other sports.
“I like basketball because I like to dribble down the court,” she said.
Track is her strong suit, winning the 100-meter walk and long jump at a recent meet.
Being manager of the softball team is important to Jones. He likes the camaraderie he shares with teammates.
“The A team watched the B team play, and the B team watched the A team play,” he said.
He also played on the B team.
Players practiced on weekends at a Grace Community Church baseball field in Newton.
“This provided team-building, helping self-esteem,” McCelland said. “They have the opportunity to meet people similar to them and they meet people from all over the state.
“It’s a great experience for them.”
And one none of them will forget for a long time.