April 29/18

Twenty three of our SOO Stratford & Area 5-pin bowlers teamed up with 13 athletes from Goderich in the “east” side of the SOO 5-hole Conference 5-pin Provincial Qualifier held at Mike’s Lanes today.

Our local bowlers certainly finished off their 5-pin season with a “bang”, with 15 of our 23 participating athletes rolling better than their incoming averages over their three games played.  And of the eight separate divisions within this competition (ladies’ and men’s divisions one through four), our athletes finished first in six!

In ladies’ action, Caitlin Breedon (+136), Jessica Wolfe-Robinson (+74) and Tiffany Keller (+47) placed first in divisions one through three, respectively. On the men’s side, Skyler Fahey (+125), Rick Tourigny (+155) and Luke Patterson (+122) captured top honours in the second through fourth divisions.

The results from this competition will now be combined with those from the “west” side of the 5-hole Conference in a competition being hosted in London on May 27 in order to determine overall division winners.

Many thanks to London 5-pin Head Coach Armand Marchand who so capably handled “all things technical” during this competition.    

We’d also like to thank SOO S-W District Developer Kaitlyn Banuelos, Mike’s Lanes manager Joe Shaw and his assistant Jason, all of our visitors from Goderich and our local volunteers Joyce, Larry, Kerry, Steve, Patty, Mike and Dani for helping to make this another great day of fun and friendship.   Thank you, all!

April 22/18

What a beautiful day for a bowling tournament!  

With the thermometer finally reaching the vicinity of spring temperatures, our SOO - Stratford & Area 5-pin athletes and volunteers welcomed over 70 athletes from four visiting communities to today’s 5-pin Invitational hosted by Mike’s Lanes.

In morning shift women’s play, Tiffany Keller (+47 points over average) and Jessica Wolfe-Robinson (+40) placed second and third for high triple, while Meghan O’Donovan took third in high single (+25).

Afternoon play saw Rick Tourigny (+93) and Steven Schultz (+53) place first and third for men’s high triple, while Trysten Reekers (+33) and Michael Ambrozic (+31) claimed second and third spots for men’s high single.   Caitlin Breedon (+101, high triple) and Marie Martin (+52, high single) grabbed second place finishes in afternoon shift women’s action.

We’d like to thank Joe, David and Nick from Mike’s Lanes for being such gracious hosts to all of our participating athletes, coaches and supporters.    We’d also like to thank volunteers Joyce, Steve, Larry, Ross, Dani, Karen, Kerry and Bill for spending their “sunny Sunday” assisting our athletes. 

April 21/18

Our Stratford & Area “Snipers” floor hockey team travelled to London’s Kinsmen Recreation Centre today to participate in the SOO Red Foster Conference Provincial Floor Hockey Qualifier.   And at the risk of including an early “spoiler” in this wrap-up,  the word “WOW” pretty much comes to mind in summing up how things turned out!

Based on the results of two 12-minute divisioning games (vs. Simcoe and London), our team was placed into a three-team division with Guelph and St. Thomas.    Round robin play saw our entry finish first by virtue of an 11-11 game one draw with St. Thomas and a 12-7 victory over Guelph, setting up a re-match vs. St. Thomas in the Championship game.    In that final, St. Thomas, fresh off an 18-8 round robin win over Guelph, jumped out to an early 4-1 lead.   Digging deep, our athletes fought back to tie the contest before allowing three late-game goals.   Down by three entering the last three-minute shift of regulation play, our crew dug in again, deadlocking the game 9-9 just before the final buzzer.    In a nail-biting sudden victory period,  St. Thomas appeared to win the game only to have their goal (correctly) called back on a crease violation.  With seconds remaining in that first overtime shift, “rookie” Snipers player Chris Marchand scored the winning goal -  setting off a huge celebration!    

To coin a phrase, every athlete “worked his or her butt off” shift in and shift out for this entire competition.   Athletes who were asked to play in positions other than they were used to did very well.   Others (Brooke, Steven K and Ashley) worked hard without hitting the score sheet, and still others chipped in with a ton of goals (Nathan (9), Mike H (6), Jamie & Chris (5), Andrew, Mike K & Steve L (2) and Luke & Tiffany (1).   And of course our goalies (Matt and Meghan) were both stalwarts between the pipes.

Many thanks to athletes Chris and Nathan (Chatham) and Ashley (Simcoe) who agreed to join our team for this competition to ensure we had enough players to compete in every game.   On behalf of our athletes and coaches, we enjoyed every minute of your time with us!

And finally, a huge “shout out” to Head Coach Jenny and her assistants Traviss, Tyler and Kayla for supporting our athletes through a nine-week extension of their season in order to provide them with an opportunity to compete in this Qualifier.    Jenny and Traviss were also integral to our team's success,  in particular during the final game, in terms of handling the “time sensitive” demands unique to this sport.   We’d also like to thank our driver, Patrick, and all of our supporters (especially those with the pom poms!) who made the trek to London to cheer on the team (and bring cookies).   Cheers!

April 8/18

SOO - Stratford & Area swim athlete Andrew Hoskin competed in the SOO Sarnia swim meet held today in Mooretown.    Andrew had a terrific day in the pool, securing two firsts (100m and 25 m freestyle) and a second (50m freestyle) in his three events.    Many thanks to local SO swim volunteer Elizabeth for working with Andrew this season and for providing his qualifying times for this meet, and to SOO London’s swim coaches who “adopted” Andrew for the day,  assisted him on deck and helped prepare him for his events.

March 3/18

There was some fine basketball on display at Stratford Central (SCSS) today as eight teams, representing five different Special Olympics communities, vied for the ‘C’ and ‘D’ division titles at the annual SOO - Stratford & Area Basketball Invitational.

Perhaps the most entertaining game of the day was the deciding ‘D’ division match between LaSalle-Windsor (LWSO) and the K-W Hoops.    With both teams tied at two wins entering that game, a tied score coupled with a deadlock in the “points against” tie-breaker resulted in the playing of a three-minute overtime period.    A back and forth defensive battle saw K-W score the only basket for a 28-26 win and the ‘D’ division crown.   LWSO, Hamilton and our host Stratford team finished second through fourth.

Coming in a close second in the “excitement department” was the fifth ‘C’ game of the day between the undefeated St. Thomas Swish and the K-W Raptors which saw St. Thomas prevail 19-15 on the strength of a late-game offensive push for the ‘C' division title.     Finishing second through fourth were the K-W Raptors, Hamilton and our own Stratford Bulls.

Many thanks to volunteers Dani, Patty and Mike, student volunteers Michaela, Abby, Jina and Jamie, referees Andy, Michelle, John and Steve, Stratford coaches Dan, Owen, Jesse, Kerry, Maureen, Tyler, Spencer and Coedy, SCSS custodial staff,  all of the participating athletes and the many volunteers and others whose support of our athletes is so very important.

Feb. 25/18

SOO - Stratford & Area swim athletes Trysten Reekers and Norm Schenck took part in the SOO - Cambridge Invitational Swim Meet hosted today by the Wilmot Aquatic Aces at the Wilmot Recreation Complex.    

Both athletes had terrific meets, putting up faster competition than qualifying times in all their events.   

Norm took first place in both of his backstroke races, swimming the 25m in 29.6s (down 11.65s) and the 50m in 1:15.66 (down 26s), while Trysten bettered both of his freestyle times (25m and 100m) by 6s.

We’d like to thank travel coach Trish, community coach Elizabeth, support staff Ken and Hillary and “the two Pattys” for facilitating our athletes' participation in this competition.

Feb. 18/18

Fifteen of our curling athletes, along with six of their coaches, made the long trek down the 401 to Windsor today to take part in the SOO Brush Conference Provincial curling Qualifier hosted by LaSalle Windsor Special Olympics (LWSO) at the Roseland Golf and Country Club.

Seven teams, representing four different communities, took part in two two-end divisioning games which resulted in the construction of two pools: a three-team ‘A’ pool (London (Tuckey), host LWSO and Woodstock), and a four-team ‘B’ pool (London (Hames/Lane), Stratford (Dale), Stratford (Keller) and Stratford (Nicoll)).    Teams then took part in a within-division round robin.

In ‘B’ division play, Team Dale won two of their three games to finish second to London Team Hames/Lane.      Team Keller (one win) and Team Nicoll placed third and fourth.    In ‘A’ play, London (Tuckey) and Woodstock finished round robin play one-two, with London edging out Woodstock in the ‘A’ Championship game to take the division title.

Our athletes would like to thank coaches Bob, Chris, Marg, Christine, Deb and Jane,  “bus driver extraordinaire” Patrick and their supporters for their respective contributions to a long, but enjoyable, day of curling competition.

Feb. 17/18

Five visiting floor hockey teams, representing Brantford, Burlington, Guelph, London, LaSalle-Windsor (LWSO), joined our local entry at our annual SOO - Stratford & Area Floor Hockey ‘C’ Invitational played today at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School.

The six entries were divided into three-team “Blue” and “Red” pools.    Each team then played a full (three-game) round robin against the three teams in the opposite pool.

In Red pool action, Brantford and LWSO won all three of their cross-pool games to finish in a tie for first with six points.   Based on a “goals against” tie-breaker, Brantford was awarded first place (GA=5) over LWSO (GA=7).    London, with one win and a tie, placed third.

Blue pool action saw Burlington claim first by virtue of their 6-0 win over London.   Stratford and Guelph placed two-three.

SOO - Stratford & Area would like to thank Stratford coaches Jenny, Traviss, Tyler and Kayla, volunteers Steve, Bill, Kerry and Mike, referees Anthony, Dennis and Rick, NWSS custodial staff, and all of the participating athletes, coaches and others who made this tournament a success.

Feb. 3/18

By virtue of first place finishes in the ‘B’ division of the SOO Region 4 Playdown and Southwestern Tankard Qualifier, Stratford & Area curlers Michael Dale, Curtis Bender, Meghan O’Donovan, Rick Tourigny and Dylan Haynes gained a berth in the SOO-CurlON ‘B’ Championship final hosted by Huntsville during semi-final day of the Ontario Men’s (Tankard) Provincial Curling Championship.

In addition to Team Dale entries from Hamilton, Kingston and Woodstock were also in attendance, with Kingston and Woodstock facing off for the ‘A’ title and Team Dale taking on Hamilton for the ‘B’ crown.

Following a 10-minute practice session during which the athletes had an opportunity to throw the championship rocks and get a feel for the speed and curl of the ice, all four teams left the playing area and were then piped back on and introduced to the crowd.   

The ‘A’ and ‘B’ championship games each consisted of four ends, with both contests being played simultaneously.    The environment was “electric”, with some great shot-making drawing applause from the many spectators taking in the competition.     

In ‘B’ play, Hamilton’s Team Allison stormed out of the gate, scoring three in the first and stealing another three in the second for a 6-0 lead.   After getting on the board with a single in the third, Team Dale did their best to battle back for the final-end tie.    Unfortunately, down 6-1 coming home without hammer,  a five-point steal was not in the cards with a skilled Hamilton squad putting up another two spot for an 8-1 final.

In the ‘A’ final, Woodstock’s Team Biersma outlasted Kingston’s Team Amey 4-3 in an excellent back-and-forth affair which saw the teams exchanged a number of terrific shots.

Team Dale would like to thank the Host Committee of the 2018 “Recharge With Milk” Men’s Tankard, CurlON event manager Dave, SOO on-site representative Kirsten, team coaches Bob, Jane and Christine, supporters Chris and Dorie, and “special driver” Tom of Stratford Airporter for giving them an opportunity to participate in this prestigious event - and to meet Glenn Howard!

Jan. 28/18

On what turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive, our basketball ‘C’ team travelled to the ARC Industries gym in Guelph to participate in SOO - Guelph’s  annual Basketball Invitational.    

Our entry was slotted into the four-team ‘C-’ division with Barrie, London and Mississauga.    Despite having a very short bench, with only a single sub for what was a compressed game schedule comprising three games in three hours, our team did very well.   

Game one proved to be their toughest test, one which saw them drop a 24-6 decision to a very strong Mississauga club.   Following a short rest, our group was back on the floor for back-to-back contests:   A 20-14 loss to London and an eventual 21-11 loss to Barrie. 

The athletes would like to thank coach Dan, volunteer Mike and driver Patrick for a great day.

Jan. 13/18

Despite a crazy week of weather that ran the gamete between dropping piles of snow to torrents of rain, today’s forecast improved just in time to allow our floor hockey team to make their way to the much-anticipated St. Thomas Invitational.  

A three-team format saw London, Stratford and host St. Thomas play a head-to-head round followed by a 3rd vs. 2nd, winner vs. 1st playoff.   

In preliminary action, the Stratford-London game came down to a shootout, with Stratford’s Mike Kelemen notching the only goal and goalie Matt Hands stoning all three London shooters for a 4-3 win.    Despite a late comeback, game two saw our entry drop a 7-4 decision to host St. Thomas, setting up a London-Stratford semi-final re-match during which multiple players hit the scoresheet in a 7-1 Stratford win.   The combination of a short bench and  fatigue appeared to catch up with our team for the championship game in which, after a tight first half, they eventually fell 7-1 to a strong and more-rested St. Thomas squad.   

In her post-tournament summary, coach Jenny noted a signficant improvement in the level of play of all our athletes and praised them for their teamwork and effort, regardless of the score.  

The athletes would like to thank coaches Jenny, Kayla and Kerry, as well as driver Patrick, for a great day.

Jan. 7/18

Eight teams of Special Olympics curlers, including our own “Team Dale” (Michael, Dale, Curtis Bender, Meghan O’Donovan, Rick Tourigny and Dylan Haynes), descended on the Woodstock Curling Club today to compete in the SOO S-W Tankard Qualifier, a second level competition to determine which teams would advance to the SOO-CurlON ‘A’ and ‘B’ Championship games at this year's 2018 CurlOn Men's Tankard (Huntsville, Feb. 3/18).

Following shut-out wins in both of their two-end divisioning games, Team Dale was placed in the ‘B’ pool with  Huronia, LaSalle-Windsor (LWSO) and Orillia B. The remaining four teams (Brantford, Orillia A, South Saugeen and Woodstock) comprised the ‘A’ division.  

In round robin play, Team Dale defeated Orillia B (4-1) and LWSO (3-2) before dropping a nail-biting 2-1 game three decision to Huronia.   That loss, combined with an LWSO win over Orillia in their final round robin game, resulted in a three-way tie for first place in the ‘B’ division.   Application of the competition tie-breaking rules to the results of the games between the three tied teams resulted in Huronia being placed third (most points allowed).   The tie-breaker then reverted to the result of the game between the remaining tied teams (LWSO and Stratford), with Stratford’s Team Dale securing a spot in the Tankard ‘B’ Championship game by virtue of their round robin win over LWSO.    Woodstock, which finished with a perfect three-win round robin ‘A’ pool record, also advanced. 

Coaches Bob and Jane would like to thank the families and friends of the athletes who made the trek to Woodstock to cheer on the team.   Your support was (and continues to be!) very much appreciated.  We’d also like to express how proud we were of how our athletes carried themselves over the course of the day - polite, considerate and sportsmanlike in both victory and defeat.   Well done, everyone!

Nov. 26/17

On Nov. 26/17, 10 of our curling athletes, along with their coaches and supporters, take part in the Region 4 Tankard Playdown.   Originally scheduled to take place in Woodstock, this competition was moved to Ingersoll when the Woodstock Curling Club faced some start-up issues with their ice plant.   

Our two entries were joined by six others representing Brantford (2), Ilderton (2), LaSalle-Windsor (LWSO) and host Woodstock.    

Following two two-end divisioning rounds, teams were grouped into two pools, with Stratford’s Team Nicoll (Chris Nicoll, Norman Schenck, Gerald Adair, Sean Darling and Crystal Dale) joining two Brantford teams and Woodstock in the ‘A’ pool, and our Team Dale (Michael Dale, Curtis Bender, Meghan O’Donovan, Rick Tourigny and Dylan Haynes) grouped with two London teams and LWSO in ‘B’.   

Team Nicoll took third place in ‘A’ division play, losing two close matches before pulling of a tie-breaking win in their final round robin game.  In ‘B’ action, Team Dale took first place overall, scoring two regulation-end wins and another on a terrific tie-breaking draw to the four foot by vice Curtis Bender.  By virtue of their first place finish in the ‘B’ division, Team Dale now advances to the S-W Tankard Qualifier scheduled for Jan. 7/18 in Woodstock.   Our Tankard curlers would like to thank coaches Bob, Chris, Deb and Jane, bus driver Patrick and all their supporters who made the trip to Ingersoll to cheer them on.   Meanwhile, back at the Stratford Country Club, our curlers who didn’t make the trip to Ingersoll would like to thank volunteers Steve, Robert, Marlene and Ken for overseeing their regular Sunday afternoon curling session.

Aug. 26/17

Sixteen teams, representing 12 different Special Olympics communities, took part in the annual SOO - Stratford & Area Softball ‘C’ and ‘D’ Invitational at Anne Hathaway Park today.

The eight ‘C’ and eight ‘D’ entries were divided into two four-team divisions (Cardinals and Cubs in ‘C’ and Diamondback and Dodgers in ‘D’), with each division playing a full round robin (three games/team) schedule.    

In Cardinals division play, London went undefeated to finish first followed by Simcoe, Guelph and Georgina.   In the Cubs (aka “Provincials 2017 revisited”) division, Barrie ran the table to claim the title followed by  Hamilton, Stratford and Burlington. 

In ‘D’ action,  LaSalle-Windsor won all three of their games  to grab first in the Diamondbacks division with Simcoe, Brantford and St. Thomas finishing second through fourth, while in Dodgers play Stratford #1 finished second to  Elmira and ahead of the third (London) and fourth place (Stratford #2) entries. 

This tournament would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors Coca-Cola Inc., Foodland, M & M Food Market.   

We would also like to recognize the following groups and volunteers for helping to make this annual tournament a success: Stratford Minor Girls Softball Association (for use of their diamonds and booth); St. John Ambulance; volunteer umpires Jamie, Jill, Bill, Damian and McKenzie; official scorekeepers Linda, Nolan, Wayne and Pauline; “booth guru” Jake; t-shirt supplier Tanis Humphrey (Stitch It Up/The Ringette Store); groundskeepers Kennedy and Dawson; BBQers Steve, Mike and Geoff; servers Patty, Shari, Dani and Kathy; official photographers Patty and Steve (Lasting Impressions Photography and Videography); and, our Stratford ‘C’ and ‘D’ coaches (Darrell, Sue, Kayla, Jesse, Chris, Kerry and April).    Thank you, all!

Aug. 12/17

On what was a “touch and go day” as far as the weather was concerned, the 56 Special Olympics golfers - representing Brampton, Burlington, London, Niagara, St. Thomas and Stratford at today’s SOO - London Chipper golf tournament at the par 28 Parkside 9 course in London - made it through the day with only a few rain drops (albeit big ones!) making an appearance.  All four of our Stratford entries had outstanding days in the “best ball” format competition, with one group finishing tied for first at an even par 28, another tied for second (+2), and the remaining two teams finishing in third (+4) and fifth (+8) place among the 17 participating teams.   Those terrific performances were a true “team effort”, with every golfer contributing his/her fair share of great shots over the nine holes.   The athletes would like to thank volunteers Larry, Marlene, Steve, Wayne (who also drove the bus!), Karen and Jane, as well as the family members who attended, for their assistance and support.

August 1, 2017

Hot on the heels of his gold medal performance at the 2017 Provincial Summer Games, golf athlete Michael Hitchcock continued to impress on the links  during SOO - London's stroke play tournament held July 24/17 at The Fox Golf Course.    Mike shot a very impressive 9-hole 46 to tie for third place in the 48-athlete men’s field and claim silver in the Men’s 2 division.  Way to go, Mike! 

August 1, 2017

Several of our SOO - Stratford & Area athletes and volunteers took part in the 2017 Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Summer Games in Peel Region (July 13-16/17).   Participating athletes included Mae Vigneux (athletics), Michael Hitchcock (golf) and the Stratford Cubs softball C team.   Local volunteers Larry Hitchcock (caddy), Darrell Chalmers, Kerry Douglas and Jane Larkworthy (softball coaches) also took part.

The following isa summary of our athletes' accomplishments.

Mae:   The Athletics competition took place at Terry Fox Stadium in Brampton.   Mae took part in six events (400 m, 800 m, 1500 m, shot put, standing long jump and the 4x400 m relay) and medalled in all six events!    Medals by event were as follows:

  • 400 m: Silver (bested her qualifying time by more than 15 seconds!) 
  • 800 m: Gold
  • 1500 m: Gold 
  • shot put:   Silver
  • standing long jump:  Gold 
  • 4x400 relay: Silver

Michael:   The Golf  competition was played at the Caledon Golf and Country Club.   Mike played his first 9-hole round on the Friday.   He shot a 64 on what was reported to be a very difficult course set up.   Based on everyone’s first round, golfers were grouped into divisions for their second 9-hole round which was played on the Saturday.   Michael was grouped with five other golfers in the Men’s 4th division.   He shot a 54 in round two to take the Gold in his division by four strokes.

Stratford Cubs Softball Club:  Our local Cubs softball team was one of 16 participating softball entries from across Ontario.    Softball took place at Dunton Park in Mississauga, with the competition kicking off with Thursday afternoon's divisioning games.   A win over Burlington and a loss to the Soo resulted in our entry being grouped with Durham, Hamilton and Barrie in the very competitive Pirates division.    Despite being in every game, our team came up just short in all three of our robin games.  In what turned out to be a terrific, back-and-forth bronze medal game vs. Barrie, our crew ended up on the short end of a 12-8 score and a medal outcome.   The Cubs roster consisted of athletes Brandin Chiasson, Aaron Elliott, Lindsay Fradgley, Matt Hands, David Hill (London), Jason Hocking (London), Andrew Hoskin, Drew Jackson, Jamie Koebel, Steve Lackie, Meghan O’Donovan, Luke Patterson and Tyler Willis.

Congratulations to all of our participating athletes and volunteers.    We’re proud of you all!

June 24/17

On what started out as a perfect day for softball, our Stratford & Area Cubs ‘C’ team traveled to London to take on Simcoe, host London and Brantford in the ‘C’ division of the annual SOO - London softball tournament.   Game one versus Simcoe was an exciting back-and-forth affair with a fittingly eventful conclusion.   Trailing 10-6 entering the fifth and final inning, our entry scored (the maximum allowable) five runs to take an 11-10 lead, then closed the door in the bottom half of the inning with three straight putouts to secure the win.    In game two versus host London, our squad scored one run in the top of the final inning to break a 10-10 tie and take a one-run lead with London yet to bat.   With one out and the tying run in scoring position, an inning-ending double play preserved both the one run lead and a win.   Unfortunately, blue skies turned to grey just before the start of game three, eventually resulting in a rain out of the showdown for first place overall versus Brantford.  The athletes would like to thank coaches Darrell, Helen and Jane, bus driver/scorekeeper Wayne, and their family and friends who made the trip to London to cheer them on. 

June 12/17

With the temperature reaching 32C and the humidex sitting at a steamy 38C, tonight’s Stratford & Area Cubs softball C team practice was moved to the International Canadian Academy of Sports Excellence (iCASE), an indoor baseball/softball training facility located at 818 Erie Street in Stratford.   The athletes were kept busy for the full 90-minute session, rotating through various skills stations (batting, fielding and pitching) before wrapping up their evening with a fun game of three-pitch.   Huge thanks goes out to iCASE Founder/President Tom Valke for making his facility available to our team (on very short notice!) and to Mia Valke for instructing our athletes and sharing with them her experience.    

May 27/17

2017 SOO - Stratford & Area Athlete Banquet

Today saw another impressive turnout of athletes, volunteers, family and supporters make their way to the Bethel Church auditorium to relive and celebrate the many and varied accomplishments of our athletes over the past year.

The afternoon kicked off with a “year in review” slideshow prepared by Patty and Steve Schenck (parents of athlete Norm Schenck).   Everyone’s eyes were intently focused on the screen as they looked for images of themselves and their friends taking part in one or more of our sport offerings.   Following the video Community Coordinator (and emcee for the day), Jane Larkworthy, formally opened the event by welcoming everyone and introducing Executive Committee members (and hosts for the day) Kerry Douglas, Cheryl McKenny, Patty O’Donovan and Steve Wray.   Jane also recognized and thanked Constable David Stewart of the Stratford Police Service for his ongoing role in organizing our local Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) and for the continuing support of our local branches of law enforcement of that event and for our community as a whole.    Jane followed that with a brief overview of our local web site ( in which she emphasized the importance of using that resource as a source of information and communication.

Sport participation certificates were then distributed to each of the attending athletes.    Once that task was complete the Head Coaches (or designates) of each of our sport programs provided short summaries of their 2016-2017 summer and winter/spring seasons and presented their athlete recognition awards, as follows:

Individual Sport Awards 

•    Basketball C: Meghan O’Donovan

•    Basketball D: Tyson Sweitzer

•    Curling: Leah Akroyd-Snider

•    5-pin Bowling: Courtney Moore

•    Floor Hockey: Luke Patterson

•    Golf: Michael Hitchcock

•    Soccer C: Mike Kelemen

•    Soccer D:  Lucas Forte

•    Softball C: Aaron Elliott

•    Softball D (Anne Hathaway): Brett Bromley

•    Softball D (Lower Queen’s Park):  Aladdin Bongertman

•    Swimming:  Ashley Pepper

•    T-Ball: Wayne Schmidt

•    Track & Field: Mae Vigneux

Before the name of the overall sport award recipient was announced, Jane asked all of the athletes who had participated in last summer’s Provincial Qualifiers to stand and be recognized, as follows:

·    Brandin Chiasson

·    Sarah Deutsch

·    Aaron Elliott

·    Lindsay Fradgley

·    Monica George

·    Matt Hands

·    Michael Hitchcock

·    Andrew Hoskin

·    Drew Jackson

·    Mike Kelemen

·    Tiffany Keller

·    Rob Kinnear

·    Jamie Koebel

·    Steve Lackie

·    Meghan O’Donovan

·    Luke Patterson

·    Norm Schenck

·    Kenneth Sparks

·    Tyler Willis

·    Mae Vigneaux

The 2016-2017 Mark Perrier Memorial Award, which recognizes the athlete deemed to have displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort enjoyment and sportsmanship in one or more sports, was then presented to Leah Akroyd-Snider.  

In this year’s “Featured Athlete” segment, Jane described how Community Living St. Marys & Area had filmed a number of individuals last summer as they went about their daily lives in the community.   The result was nine separate three to four-minute videos, each generated from up to 10 hours of filming.   Of those nine productions, six were of the “personal” variety, highlighting the daily activities, personal triumphs, contributions and “core gifts” of their featured stars. On April 22, the stars of those productions, along with friends, supporters and others who had participated in the project, were invited to St. Marys for a “video screening”.  One of those videos featured athlete Michael Mainland (and a supporting cast including athlete Jeff Paul).    The video was then shown to those gathered.

The focus of the proceedings then turned to the recognition of our community volunteers, with three of those volunteers receiving special attention this year, as follows:

  • Mike O’Donovan, our community’s “go to guy” when we need (just about) anything done, was recognized for 15 years of volunteer service.  
  • Bill Clelland, who, with 35 consecutive years of service, is our community’s longest serving volunteer, was also recognized and thanked for his service.     Bill will be officially recognized by SOO for his extraordinary volunteerism at a ceremony in October 2017.
  • Wayne McKenny, our volunteer bus driver “extraordinaire”, was recognized for his ongoing provision of transportation services to and from our many out-of-town competitions for our athletes, volunteers and families.

All of the volunteers in attendance were then asked to stand so they that could accept the appreciation of the athletes and others in attendance through their applause.                                     

Having concluded the formal portion of the proceedings, everyone then adjourned to a scrumptious meal of pasta, green salad, grilled vegetables, dessert and beverages catered by The County Food Co.

SOO - Stratford & Area wishes to thank Bethel Church for again providing us with the perfect venue for our annual celebration.   We would also like to thank Chris and Curtis Bender, Mike O’Donovan and the members of the Executive Committee who helped to set up the venue, Patty Schenck for her assistance with audio-visual portion of the day, Elizabeth Gaffney, AprilHaggart and Cathy DeBrabandere their serving assistance, and to the many volunteers (including the Akroyd-Snider family) who assisted returning the venue to its original pristine condition.   Thank you, all, for your help in making this successful celebration! 

April 23/17

Stratford’s Mike’s Lanes hosted over 100 athletes from seven different communities in today's annual SOO - Stratford & Area 5-pin Invitational.   

Athletes took part in either an early (9 am) or late (1 pm) shift, with awards being presented based on Points Over Average (POA) for High Single and High Triple by gender.  Extraordinary team performances were also recognized.

Judging by the amount of conversation, socializing and laughter, and the general volume of the many celebrations, everyone seemed to enjoy the day!

In High Singles, Derek Wray (+55) and Sean Darling (+33) placed first and third in men’s and Meghan O’Donovan (+48) took second in women’s.  In High Triples , Mike Kelemen (+78) and Rick Tourigny (+53) placed second and third in men’s, while Katherine Auger (+66) and Franny Hitchcock (+51) took first and third in women’s.    In early shift team play, Stratford's  Steve Lackie, Hitchcock, Tourigny and Wray placed first (+152), with Lindsay Fradgley, Steven Kennedy, Darling and O’Donovan taking second (+128).  

SOO - Stratford & Area wishes to thank our 5-pin volunteers, in particular program manager Joyce Darling, for their dedication over the course of the bowling season.    We’d also like to thank Mike’s Lanes manager Joe Shaw and his entire staff for their support of our athletes and for “going that extra mile” to make them feel welcome.   

April 4/17

Our Stratford & Area 5-pin athletes took part in two out-of-town competitions this season, with roughly half of our registered bowlers attending each tournament.    The participating athletes reported that they enjoyed the opportunity to bowl at different facilities, meet new friends, renew old acquaintances and have fun!

The annual SOO - Cambridge 5-pin tournament (March 12) hosted 10 visiting communities and over 190 athletes.   All of our athletes played very well, with Franny Hitchcock rolling a 195 to grab high single scratch.  

April 2 saw SOO - London host 90 5-pin athletes from five different communities including Brantford, Goderich, host London, Stratford and Windsor ICHA.   All 17 of our local bowlers enjoyed good days on the lanes, with all but four bowling at least one game over their season average.   Of special note were the performances of Courtney Moore (399), Derek Wray (445) and Lindsay Fradgley (640), all of whom scored high triples in their respective divisions.   

Thanks are extended to volunteers Joyce, Steve and Kerry for accompanying our athletes to these tournaments, and to bus driver Wayne for ensuring that everyone made it there and back safely.

Mar. 4/17

It was a busy day at Stratford Central today as athletes, coaches and supporters from six visiting communities made the trek to our fair city to participate in our annual SOO – Stratford & Area Basketball Invitational.   In the ‘C’ division, Welland C “ran the table”, winning all three of their round robin games to take top spot.   Mississauga (2-1), St. Thomas (1-2) and our host squad rounded out the division standings.    ‘D’ action saw Brampton down Welland D in their first-place-deciding round robin game, with Hamilton and Stratford finishing three-four.   Sincerest thanks to our Stratford coaches Dan, Roger, Owen, Jesse and Tyler, ‘C’ division referees Andy, John, Michelle and Keyuan,  ‘D’ division referees Jim, Owen, Jamie and Hannah, minor officials Micaela, Jenna, Jina, Emily, Aastha and Judy, Committee volunteers Kerry, Dani, Patty and Mike, and the many spectators who supported and cheered on the athletes.

Feb. 18/17

Stratford Northwestern Secondary School played host to our annual SOO – Stratford & Area Invitational ‘C’ Floor Hockey Tournament today, with five visiting communities joining our local entry in the six-team competition.    Teams were divided into two three-team pools, with each team in one pool playing all three teams in the other pool.   Our host club won all three of their games, defeating London (2-1), Guelph (3-2) and York South (3-1) to take first place in the Blue pool and top spot overall.    Brantford and St. Thomas rounded out the Blue pool standings.    In Red pool play, York South, which downed Brantford (2-0) and St. Thomas (5-3), placed first followed by Guelph and London.    A huge “thank you” is extended to referees Bill, Paul and Trevor, local coaches Darrell, Kerry and Tyler, all of our visiting athletes, coaches and supporters, and our small, but very busy, troupe of local volunteers for helping to make this tournament another huge success.

Feb. 11/17

A full busload of SOO - Stratford curlers, coaches and supporters made the short trek to Ilderton this morning to take part in the host centre’s annual Fun Spiel.   Athletes from five visiting communities (Brantford, LaSalle/Windsor, St. Thomas, Stratford and Woodstock) joined forces with their hosts from Ilderton for a great day of curling, food and friendship.   Our four Stratford & Area entries did themselves proud, with each team winning one of their two games and two of the four losses being decided by a narrow two-point margin.  The athletes would like to thank volunteers Deb, Christine, Chris, Steve, Bob, Robert and Janet for all of their help, both on and off the ice.   They would also like to thank volunteer driver Wayne for getting our group safely to and from the spiel and for keeping score for all eight games!

Jan. 29/17

Quoting SOO - Stratford & Area basketball ‘C’ Head Coach Daniel Millar, "our athletes put in a great effort" at today's SOO - Guelph Basketball Invitational, finishing third in their tough four-team division.    Game one saw Guelph edge our entry 14-12 on a game-winning basket with three seconds remaining.   Although disappointed by that outcome, our athletes regrouped to down London 32-21 in game two.    In their third game of the day, fatigue began to affect our short-benched squad of seven resulting in a 24-4 loss to Mississauga.    Thanks to coaches Dan and Roger, volunteer Kerry and driver Wayne for another enjoyable day!

Jan 6/17

Seven of our Stratford & Area swim athletes took part in the annual Cambridge/Wilmot Special Olympics invitational swim meet on Dec. 11/16.  Head Coach Patty O’Donovan reported that all of our athletes competed extremely well, with five of them coming away with placement ribbons in one or more of their events.  Ashley Pepper had an exceptional day, taking three firsts (25m back, 25 m breast and 100m breast) and a second (50m breast) in her four events.   Kerry Bridge (25m breast) and Norman Schenck (50m back) picked up seconds, while Leah Akroyd-Snider (25m breast) and Bethany Henderson (25m back) grabbed thirds.  The athletes would like to thank their coaches, volunteers, staff and others who made the trip to New Hamburg to support them in this competition!

Nov. 15/16

SOO - Stratford & Area is very pleased to announce that the following athletes have been named to SOO’s South Western Ontario District Team for the 2017 Provincial Summer Games (Peel Region, July 13-16, 2017):       

Mae Vigneux, Athletics

Michael Hitchcock, Golf

Aaron Elliott, Softball

Andrew Hoskin, Softball

Brandin Chiasson, Softball

Drew Jackson, Softball

James Koebel, Softball

Lindsay Fradgley, Softball

Luke Patterson, Softball

Matt Hands, Softball

Meghan O'Donovan, Softball

Rob Kinnear, Softball

Steve Lackie, Softball

Tyler Willis, Softball

Congratulations to these athletes on their selection, and to all of our athletes who participated in their respective Provincial Qualifiers this past summer!

Aug. 27/16

After a summer of soaring temperatures and saturating humidity, organizers of today’s SOO - Stratford & Area Softball Invitational couldn’t have asked for a better day for ball, with visiting teams from Guelph, London, K-W, St. Thomas and Tillsonburg joining our three local entries for a fantastic day of ball, food and fun!

In ‘C’ division play, the K-W Strikers and our host Stratford Cubs each picked up two wins and a tie, with K-W edging out our local entry for first place overall by the narrowest of margins based on the tournament tie-breaking rules.  The London Marlins and Guelph Zack Attack rounded out the ‘C’ standings.   In the five-team ‘D’ division, undefeated Tillsonburg took first followed by St. Thomas, London and our two Stratford entries. 

This tournament would not be possible without the generous support of our many sponsors, including Coca-Cola Inc., Dempsters, Food Basics, Foodland, No Frills, M & M Food Market, Old Dutch Chips and Tim Hortons (Ontario & C.H. Meier).   

We would also like to recognize the following groups and volunteers for their help in making this annual event another rousing success: Stratford Minor Girls Softball Association (for use of their diamonds and booth); St. John Ambulance; volunteer umpires Jamie, Jill, Larry and Bill; official scorekeepers Linda, Ron, Nolan, Wayne and Pauline; “booth gurus” Madi and Emily; t-shirt supplier Tanis Humphrey (Stitch It Up/The Ringette Store); groundskeepers Jack, David (and his family), Tyler and Cory; BBQers Steve and Mike; servers Helen, Patty, Shari, Drew and Kathy; official photographers Patty and Steve (Lasting Impressions Photography and Videography); and, our Stratford ‘C’ and ‘D’ coaches (Glenn, Dale & Jenalee; Helen, Kerry, Nikki & Anne-Marie; Jesse, Chris, Leah & Alexis).    Thank you, all!

Aug. 20/16

With the weather forecast predicting extreme heat, humidity and late afternoon thundershowers, the hosts of today’s London par 3 golf tournament decided to begin the competition two hours earlier than originally scheduled.    That turned out to be a very wise choice, with 61 golfers, including 13 from Stratford, completing their nine hole round, lunch and awards in a tidy three hours.    Our local entries played very well, with team scores on the tricky par 28 course ranging from 33 to 39.   A highlight of the round saw one of our groups birdie hole #1 four times, with each golfer banging the six foot birdie putt into the heart of the cup!   Thanks goes out to volunteers Larry, Joyce and Steve, parents Alice and Tom, and to bus driver Wayne for their help in making this another fun event for our athletes.  

Aug. 14/16

North London Athletic Fields served as the host for today’s SOO Strikers Conference Provincial soccer Qualifier.   Seven entries representing four communities (London, St. Thomas, and Stratford & Area and Woodstock) took part, with teams being divided into two separate divisions based on a combination of skill pre-assessments and on-site seeding games.    In the four-team ‘C’ pool, our local roster downed London (6-2) and St. Thomas (10-2) before losing a very close contest to Woodstock (3-1).   An exciting 5-3 win over Woodstock in the championship game secured first place in the ‘C’ division for our team.   Head coach Kerry was very pleased with the day, the success of which he contributed to an overall team effort.    Many thanks to coaches Kerry, Glenn and Graham, photographer (and proud mom) Patty, and bus driver Wayne for their contributions to another fun and successful day! 

July 28, 2016

Track and field athletes Monica George and Mae Vigneux represented Stratford & Area exceptionally well at the SOO Pronghorn Conference Provincial track and field Qualifier held July 9 in London, collecting first place ribbons in every event in which they competed.   Mae, a distance specialist, participated in the 400m (2:02.06), 800m (4.19.53), 1500m (9:24.66), shot put (4.94m) and standing long jump (1.39m).   Monica took part in the 200m (47.69s), 400m (2:30.15), shot put (4.49m) and standing long jump (1.49m).   Well done, ladies!   Thanks goes out to coaches Bill, Claire and Jesse for their efforts in training our athletes, and to Bill and Claire for accompanying them to this meet.

July 25, 2016

SOO - Stratford & Area golf athletes Lindsay Fradgley and Michael Hitchcock traveled to The Fox Golf Course in Granton today to participate in the SOO Backswing Conference Provincial golf Qualifier hosted by SOO - London.   The qualifying field consisted of 37 athletes (5 of them women) from  LaSalle-Windsor, London, Stratford, Tillsonburg and Windsor (Cabot).   Our  athletes both had great days on the links, with Michael posting a 54 (tied for 5th overall among the 32-player male field) and Lindsay shooting a 62 (2nd among the women and 1st in her (second) division).    Many thanks to caddies Chris Dickenson and Patti Johnston for accompanying, supporting and advising our athletes throughout their respective rounds, and to head coach Larry for his assistance.    

July 16, 2016

Thirteen of our Stratford & Area athletes travelled to LaSalle (Windsor) today to take part in SOO's Royals Conference Provincial softball Qualifying competition.   Following a two-game divisioning round, the six participating teams were divided into two separate pools, with the Guelph Ravens, London Vipers and host Lasalle (Mailloux) in ‘B’, and the London Marlins, St. Thomas Blue Jays and our Stratford Cubs in ‘C’.     Our entry won both of their round robin games, defeating St. Thomas 14-0 and London 16-12.    A 19-6 mercy rule championship game win versus London secured the ‘C’ division title.   Head coach Glenn reported that everyone played very well and that the successful day was a true “team effort”.    Winning the ‘C’ division now provides our team with an opportunity to be selected by SOO to advance to the 2017 SOO Provincial Summer Games.   Fingers crossed! 

We’d like to extend a huge “thanks” to volunteer bus driver Wayne, who picked up our athletes and coaches at their departure location at 5 am and returned them there safely some 16 hours later!   Thanks also to Cubs coaches Glenn, Dale and Jenalee, scorekeeper Cheryl, and the friends and family members who made the trip to LaSalle to support our team.   Well done, everyone!

July 7, 2016

Special Olympics golfers from London and Stratford, along with their coaches, supporters and local volunteers, descended on the Stratford Municipal Golf Course today for a terrific day of golf, food and fun at the 2nd annual SOO - Stratford & Area Golf Invitational.   Playing in a scramble format, each of the three-player teams worked through the front nine holes playing off the “best ball” of their group.     Despite hot and humid weather conditions, reports were that everyone enjoyed their day and that some wonderful shots were made over the course of the round.     Our visiting London golfers dominated on the links, turning in the top three rounds on the par 35 course with impressive showings of 37 (+2), 39 (+4) and 40 (+5).   Honourable mention goes to the Stratford threesome of Michael Hitchcock, Jeremiah Klassen and Steve Lackie for their round of 41 (+6).    In the skills component of the event, our local golfers did very well, wth Rick Tourigny grabbing first in the putting competition (60) and second in the men’s longest drive, Michael Hitchcock taking third in putting (45), and Jeremiah Klassen placing a close fourth in the longest drive.   Many thanks to our sponsor Engineered Packaging Solutions (EPS Inc, Ross Snider), product donors Stratford Foodland, No Frills and Sobeys, our BBQ crew from Staples (Stratford), everyone who helped with set-up, serving and clean-up, our putting contest duo of Madi and Emily, and our on-course volunteers and support staff for their roles in the success of this tournament.   Special thanks is extended to the Muni’s Manager of Operations, Kyle Brodhagen, his staff and the Muni members for again allowing us to use their wonderful course for this competition.    You’re the best!

June 25, 2016

SOO - Stratford & Area softball athletes, coaches and supporters travelled to Stronach Park in London today to participate in the annual SOO - London softball tournament.    Our Cubs ‘C’ team had a great showing, winning two of their three games (vs. Brantford (7-4) and Simcoe (20-10)) and losing their third by a single run (vs. London 12-11) to finish atop their division.   Our Dodgers ‘D’ entry started off strong in their five-team division, losing their opener in a 2-1 squeaker to host London.   Despite giving their best, our team also came up short in their second and third games against very strong entries from LaSalle and Tillsonburg, respectively.    Many thanks to coaches Dale, Jenalee, Helen and Kerry, scorekeepers Cheryl and Wayne (who also handled the driving!), and the many friends and family members who made the trip to The Forest City to support our teams.

May 28, 2016

2016 SOO - Stratford & Area Athlete Banquet

Close to 130 athletes, family, volunteers and supporters gathered in the auditorium of Bethel Church today for the annual celebration of our athletes and their achievements over the course of the past calendar year.  

The afternoon began with the musical offerings of “The Nic Scott Band”, with Marlene Hundert, Jim Hurley, Mike Rielly, Dave Scott and leader Nic Scott playing the banquet attendees to their places.    Once everyone was seated, Patty and Steve Schenck presented the always-popular and well-received “year-in-review” slide show.   Community Coordinator Jane Larkworthy then took to the podium to welcome everyone, introduce Executive Committee members (and hosts for the day) Kerry Douglas, Cheryl McKenny, Patty O’Donovan and Steve Wray, and then provide a short overview of our local web site (   She then turned the microphone over to Constable David Stewart of the Stratford Police Service, whose entertaining “Internet Awareness” presentation provided athletes, volunteers and caregivers alike with important information on keeping safe when on-line.

Following the distribution of sport participation certificates to each of the attending athletes, the Head Coaches gave short summaries of their 2015-2016 summer and winter/spring sport seasons and presented the athlete recognition awards for their respective sports, as follows:

Individual Sport Awards 

    Basketball C: Jamie Koebel

    Basketball D: Jasmin Whitesel

    Curling: Michael Dale

    5-pin Bowling: Carla Dewys

    Floor Hockey: Andrew Hoskin

    Golf: Jessica Wolfe-Robinson

    Soccer C: Norm Schenck

    Soccer D:  Sarah-Anne Doucette-Snow

    Softball C: Tyler Willis

    Softball D (Anne Hathaway): Steve Lackie

    Softball D (St. Ambrose):  Bryson Kelly

    Swimming: Tiffany Keller

    T-Ball: McKenzie Hinz

    Track & Field: Monica George

Before the name of the overall sport award recipient was announced, the group celebrated the accomplishments of one of our multi-sport athletes, Leah Akroyd-Snider, who recently earned her Black Belt in Taekwondo.  Congratulations, Leah!   

The 2015 – 2016 Mark Perrier Memorial Award, which recognizes the athlete deemed to have displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort enjoyment and sportsmanship in one or more sports, was then presented to Andrew Hoskin.  

The focus of the proceedings then turned to the recognition of our community volunteers, many of who serve as sport volunteers, teaching, supervising and supporting our athletes each week of the sport season.    Our volunteer bus driver, Wayne McKenny, was also thanked for safely transporting our crew to and from our many competitions.  

5-year SOO volunteer pin recipients Deb Best, Helen and Nikki Fulton and Glenn Patterson, and year-round Head Coaches Glenn Patterson, Jesse Smith and Darrell Chalmers were specifically recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Special congratulations were also extended to Kerry Douglas, our 30+ year Special Olympics volunteer, who received a Province of Ontario Volunteer Service Award during a ceremony held at the Arden Park Hotel on March 15/16.   

All of the volunteers in attendance were then asked to stand so they that could accept the appreciation of the athletes and others in attendance through their applause.                                          

Having concluded the formal portion of the proceedings, everyone then adjourned to a scrumptious meal of pasta, salads, dessert and beverages catered by The County Food Co.

SOO - Stratford & Area wishes to thanks Bethel Church for again providing us with the perfect venue for our annual celebration.   We would also like to thank the members of The Nic Scott Band, Constable Dave Stewart, Chris Bender and his family, Mike and Meghan O’Donovan and the members of the Executive Committee for helping with set-up, and to the many volunteers who assisted with putting the auditorium back to the way we found it.   Many hands do make light work.   Thank you!

April 24, 2016

Over 100 athletes from eight different communities participated in our annual SOO - Stratford & Area 5-pin tournament hosted by Mike’s Lanes today.   All of our local bowlers played well, with a number having exceptional “Points Over Average” performances.   Sarah Deutsch (High Triple, Female, +117), Carla Dewys (High Single, Female, +55) and Gerald Adair (High Single, Male, +49) each grabbed first place finishes, while  Lucas Lawrence (High Triple, Male, +92) and Leah Akroyd-Snider (High Triple, Female, +81) scored seconds, and Meghan O’Donovan (High Single, Female, +46) captured a third.    Sincere thanks are extended to sport club manager Joyce, our many local volunteers, and Joe and the staff of Mike’s Lanes for another terrific day!

April 17, 2016

Fifteen of our 5-pin bowlers took part in the London 5- and 10-pin tournament hosted today by Fleetway Bowling Centre.   Under a format that used current season averages to divide bowlers into distinct groupings  (based on average and gender), awards were based on head-to-head results between bowlers of similar skill.    All of our athletes played very well, with almost half (Leah Akroyd-Snider, Sarah DeutschLindsay FradgleyFranny Hitchcock, Michael Hitchcock, Meghan ODonovan and Jessica Wolfe-Robinson) taking first place in their respective divisions.    Mike Kelemen and Derek Wray (second) and Tiffany Keller (third)  also placed well.   The athletes would like to thank volunteers Steve, Kerry and Ross, as well as driver Wayne, for another great day of competition and fun!

March 15, 2016

SOO – Stratford & Area is pleased to announce that long-time volunteer Kerry Douglas was presented with a  2016 Province of Ontario Volunteer Service Award during a ceremony held at the Arden Park Hotel on March 15.    In total, 270 Perth, Huron, Oxford and Wellington county residents were recognized by a wide variety of organizations for continuous volunteer commitments ranging from 5 to 60 years.  Kerry, whose volunteer time with Special Olympics spans 30 years, was one of only 11 Stratford residents (of the 50) recognized for 30 or more years of service. Congratulations, Kerry! 

March 13, 2016

Three teams of Stratford & Area athletes traveled to Cambridge today to participate in the annual Cambridge 5-pin tournament.   All of our bowlers had great showings, with most rolling over average in at least one of their three games.   Two of our athletes also received special recognition, with Steve Lackie capturing Men’s POA High Triple and Lindsay Fradgley taking High Triple Female Scratch.   Many thanks to volunteers Joyce, Steve, Glenn and driver Wayne for accompanying and cheering on our athletes.

March 6, 2016

Three of our local swimmers took part in the SOO Cambridge swim meet held at the Wilmot Recreation Complex (New Hamburg) today.  Sean Darling and Tiffany Keller each picked up first place finishes, with Darling shaving almost a full minute off his 100m freestyle qualifying time and Keller besting her 50m breaststroke entry time in the process.   Keller and Darling also placed in their other events, with Keller scoring two seconds (25m backstroke and 25m freestyle) and a third (50m freestyle), and Darling picking up a second and third (25m and 50m freestyle, respectively).  Leah Akroyd-Snider also swam very well in her three events, grabbing two seconds (25m and 50m freestyle) and a third (25m breaststroke).  Our athletes would like to thank coach Trish and driver Mike for their time and support.

March 5, 2016

Our annual SOO - Stratford & Area ‘C’ and ‘D’ Basketball Invitational took place today at Stratford Central Secondary School.    Athletes from Brampton, Guelph, LaSalle-Windsor and St. Thomas joined our local teams in a round robin (within-division) competition.    In the ‘C’ division, a very strong Guelph entry “ran the table” to take first place.   In a nail-biting tournament closer, our Stratford entry edged  St. Thomas 20-19 to vault over the latter and into second place overall.   St. Thomas and LaSalle-Windsor rounded out the ‘C’ division standings.   ‘D’ play saw the two Guelph entries finish one-two,  Brampton take third and our Stratford entry finish a close fourth.    As the saying goes, “many hands make light work”.   In keeping with that adage we’d like to acknowledge the many volunteers who made this tournament such a success:   our local ‘C’ coaches Darrell, Roger  and Char, ‘D’ coaches Jesse and James, K-W referees Mike, Joe, Andy and Michelle, ‘D’ referees Nikki (who worked six straight games!), Jim, Char and Scott, scorekeepers and timekeepers Naomi, Neil, Alex, Madi, Anita, Emily and Jessica, “jacks of all trades” Kerry and Mike, and the custodial staff at SCSS (who were awesome!).   We’d also like to thank our visiting athletes, volunteers and supporters, some of whom travelled quite a long distance, for cheering on the athletes.    Well done, everyone!

February 20, 2016

Floor hockey athletes from Guelph, London and Stratford enjoyed a great day of competition and camaraderie at our annual Invitational ‘C’ Floor Hockey Tournament held at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School today.   Each of the three teams played four games in the double round-robin tournament, with Guelph and Stratford finishing tied for first place at three wins.  Having split their head-to-head games, a “least goals against” tie-breaker was applied, the results of which vaulted Guelph past our local entry and into first place by the narrowest of margins.   Our local athletes would like to thank their coaches Glenn, Darrell and Dale, referees Denis, Rick and Anthony, volunteers Kerry, Bill, Mike and Steve,  the many supporters who came to cheer them on, the school’s custodial staff, and all of the visiting athletes and coaches for a great day!

February 13, 2016

On the Saturday of the 2016 Valentine’s Day weekend, seventeen of our Stratford & Area curling athletes braved the snow and extreme cold to participate in the annual SOO - London Fun Spiel.    The four-sheet Ilderton Curling Club was “packed to the rafters”, with 16 full teams, their coaches, family and friends taking part in a terrific day of curling and fun.    Each of our four entries played two four-end games, with an accumulated win-loss-tie record of 3-3-2.     It was a great day, indeed, as our curlers played very well, made some great shots, enjoyed a tasty catered lunch, made new friends and renewed old acquaintances.    The athletes would like to thank coaches Deb, Christine, Steve, Bob and Jane for accompanying them to this spiel and for assisting them on the ice.   Special thanks is extended to bus driver Wayne, who navigated less-than-stellar driving conditions both to and from Ilderton so that the athletes could take part in this once-a-year competition.

January 24, 2016

January 24 saw our Stratford & Area basketball ‘C’ athletes take to the floor of Guelph’s ARC Industries gym as participants in the 14th Annual SOO - Guelph Basketball Invitational.   Our team working hard on every shift of the round robin competition against perennial powerhouses Guelph, Brampton and Mississauga, finishing the day with one win against two losses.    Our athletes would like to thank coaches Darrell and Roger for their time and expertise, and driver Wayne for volunteering his time to get everyone to and from Guelph safely.

August 22, 2015

It was a busy day, indeed,  at Anne Hathaway Park's diamonds today, with 13  teams gathering for our annual SOO - Stratford & Area Softball Invitational.    Athletes, coaches, volunteers and supporters from Georgina, K-W, LaSalle-Windsor, London, Newmarket, Simcoe, Tillsonburg and Woolwich joined forces with our three teams of local athletes for a terrific day of softball and fun.    Our Stratford ‘C’ Cubs had a great showing, winning three of their four games to take second place in the five-team ‘C’ division.    Our two ‘D’ entries, “Team Jesse” and “Team Nikki”, each played three games including a tournament-closing head-to-head contest won by Team Jesse (3-1).   We have many people to thank for their respective roles in making this annual event another huge success: UIC Jamie and his crew of umpires (who volunteered their services for the day); the Stratford Minor Girls Softball Association; groundskeeper (and fill-in umpire) James; scorekeepers Ron, Linda, Wayne, Veronica, Nolan and Jacob; booth operators extraordinaire Madi and Emily; St. John Ambulance attendants Erika, Nick and Tim; BBQers Steve, Mike and Dave; photographers Patty, Steve and Patty; pre-, during and post-event volunteers Shari, Glenn, Darrell, Patty, Elaine, Kerry, Tracy and Adam; t-shirt provider Tanis; our sponsors and product suppliers; and, of course, the coaches and volunteers of our community softball teams.   Thank you, all, for everything you do to make these events “happen” for so many Special Olympics athletes! 

August 15, 2015

Ten of our SOO - Stratford & Area golfers traveled to London today for the annual Parkside 9 Invitational Par 3 Tournament.   The participating athletes and volunteers were no doubt relieved that the  forecasted thunder showers never  materialized.    Our hosts were well-prepared for the expected inclement weather, having set up sun shades and on-course seating and providing water and snacks to the golfers and coaches throughout their round.   All of our Stratford & Area golfers played very well, with a combined Stratford-London team which included Tammi Doogan and Dylan Haynes taking top spot in the team competition with a +1.     Stratford athletes Sean Darling, Jeremiah Klassen, Tiffany Keller and Andy VanSchaik (+6) and  Jeff Paul, Tyson Sweitzer, Jessica Wolfe-Robinson and Derek Wray (+8) also had great showings.   Tyson also topped all comers in the putting contest, scoring a 50 on the putting board and sinking the putt at the same time!  Many thanks to volunteers Marlene, Shari, Steve and bus driver Wayne for helping our athletes to enjoy today's golf experience to the fullest.

July 27, 2015

SOO - Stratford & Area golfers Lindsay Fradgley and Michael Hitchcock took to the fairways of The Fox golf course in Granton today as part of a stroke play tournament hosted by SOO - London.   In total, 56 golfers (49 men and seven women), representing 12 different communities from as far away as Collingwood, Mississauga and Windsor, took part in the 9-hole tournament.     Both of our local golfers had terrific days on the course.   Lindsay, who was competing in her first-ever stroke play event, shot a 67 to finish second in the women’s ‘A’ flight.   Michael, whose impressive round of 58 included pars on his last two holes, grabbed first place in the men’s ‘C' flight.   Huge thanks is extended to coach Larry and Fox member (and SOO - London dad) Curtis for their help on a very hot but successful day!

July 2, 2015

“What a beautiful day for golf!”   The sun was shining, a gentle breeze was blowing and the sky was clear as athletes and volunteers from Brantford, London, Simcoe and Tillsonburg arrived at the Stratford Municipal Golf Course this morning for our 1st Annual SOO - Stratford & Area golf tournament.  In total, over 70 participants, including 13 athletes from our S & A golf program, enjoyed a busy day of golf, fun and food.    The three player “best ball” format yielded some impressive results, indeed, with one of London’s four entries finishing two over par to take the team title.   In the individual skills competition, Stratford’s Lindsay Fradgley outdrove the field of female competitors to take first in the “ladies’ longest drive”, while our own Tiffany Keller topped all comers in the putting contest.   SOO - S & A  would like to recognize and thank the Stratford Municipal GC for its generosity in both hosting this event and serving as the home course for our golf program.    We would also like to thank the course's Manager of Operations, Kyle Brodhagen and his staff, and Stratford volunteers Shari, Larry, Marlene, Bev, Maxine, Cathy, Ross, David, Rod, Steve and Kerry for their contributions to a very successful day.

June 28, 2015

4th Annual SOO - Stratford & Area Walk-a-Thon

I guess even the sun gets to take a holiday once in a while!   Despite today being one of those days, a hearty group of athletes, their supporters and volunteers braved the misty morning weather to trek around the sidewalks of Upper Queen’s Park during our annual Walk-a-Thon.   Following a spirited warm-up led by Elizabeth Gaffney (and her lovely assistants,  athletes Brooke Dahm and Franny Hitchcock), the raincoat-attired group started off on the first of several laps around the park.   Lunch arrived just in time to rescue everyone from an increasingly heavy rain, with all in attendance retreating to the protection of the pavilion for food and conversation.   In the end the small but mighty group raised over $1900 in support of our athletes and programs!    A huge “thank you” to those who pledged our athletes and to everyone who assisted with another successful event! 

June 18, 2015

The TORONTO 2015 Torch Relay for the Pan Am Games is a 41-day journey that will share the Pan Am spirit in more than 130 communities. The torch relay started in Canada on May 30, 2015, and will make its final stop on July 10, 2015 at the Opening Ceremony of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games.

Today, the 2015 Pam Am Games Torch visited  the City of Stratford.   SOO - Stratford & Area was well-represented, indeed, with athletes Jamie Koebel and Franny Hitchcock (representing Community Living Stratford and Area (CLSA)) being selected as torchbearers.   Jamie received the torch approximately 100 metres up (from the base of) “Snake Hill”, carried the torch down the remainder of Snake Hill (toward the river), continued west along Lakeside Drive and finished at the podium in Lower Queen’s Park.   Following remarks from Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson, Franny carried the torch west along Lakeside Drive then boarded the HMS Razzamajazz which carried the torch and its guardians to  Tom Patterson Island where the flame was passed to the next torchbearer.  A post-event celebration followed on Tom  Patterson Island.   Congratulations, Franny and Jamie!

May 29, 2015

Our basketball program officially wrapped last Sunday (May 24), with eight of our athletes taking part in the Express Conference Provincial Qualifier in London.   A two-game divisioning round resulted in our entry being placed in the five-team ‘C’ division alongside Windsor, LaSalle, St. Thomas and London.   Following a convincing 26-4 win over Windsor, the team dropped tight back-to-back contests to St. Thomas (20-16) and London (27-20) before closing out the round robin with a win over LaSalle (19-10) to grab third place.    Coaches Darrell Chalmers, Charlene Ross and Roger Koert were very pleased with the entire team, not just for their performance at this competition but for their efforts over the course of the season - particularly in the weeks leading up to this Qualifier.   SOO – Stratford & Area extends sincere thanks to these coaches for committing to an extended season in order to provide our athletes with an opportunity to attend this Qualifier.

May 25, 2015

2015 SOO - Stratford & Area Athlete Banquet

It certainly was a beautiful day for party!  

Close to 130 athletes, volunteers, parents, caregivers and supporters came together this past Saturday to celebrate the previous year’s achievements of our SOO - Stratford & Area athletes and to thank our many volunteers and sponsors for their support. 

As banquet attendees made their way into the auditorium they were entertained by another excellent slideshow provided to us by  Patty Schenck.  Once everyone was seated, Community Coordinator Jane Larkworthy opened the formal portion of the afternoon by recognizing and thanking our “resident photographers” (and athlete moms), “the two Pattys” (Schenck and O’Donovan) and officer Dave Stewart (Stratford Police Service) for his ongoing work with the local leg of the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run (OLETR).   She then introduced her Executive Committee colleagues – the people behind the day-to-day operation of our community and hosts for the day – Tracy Dickenson, Kerry Douglas, Shari McKenny, Patty O’Donovan and Steve Wray.  

Kerry Douglas then took to the podium to speak briefly about recent loss of long-time SOO volunteer and former Community Coordinator Ingrid Newbery. 

Following a moment of silence, the program moved to a review of our local web site (    With the help of Matt Brickman, Jane reviewed the pertinent sections of the web site including “news flash” (where cancellation notices and other “urgent” information is posted), “news” (the home of stories on sports and other events), “events” (our local calendar of events) and “supporters” (which recognizes the many sponsors and contributors who support our athletes and supporters).   

Fundraising and publicity coordinator Tracy Dickenson then spoke briefly about our upcoming “Walk-a-Thon” (June 28, 10 am – noon, Upper Queen’s Park pavilion).     The Executive Committee then hand-delivered participation certificates to all athletes in attendance.  

Each of the head coaches in attendance then took to the podium to recap their past season and present the athlete recognition award (based on consistent attendance, effort, enjoyment and sportsmanship) for their respective sports.  As part of those presentations, Jane congratulated athletes Jamie Koebel and Franny Hitchcock for their selection as Torchbearers in the upcoming visit of the TORONTO 2015 PanAm Games torch to Stratford on June 18.

Following a short promotional video courtesy of Home & Company Real Estate, Kerry Douglas, Head Coach of Stratford’s entry in the 2015 SOO Floor Hockey Provincial Championships, returned to the podium to describe that event and thank sponsor Feed-All Pet Centre for their financial support and  purchase of team walk-out uniforms.   Team members were asked to stand and were recognized with applause by those in attendance.

Following the presentation of the Mark Perrier Memorial Award and formal recognition of our volunteers, attendees were treated to a delicious catered meal prepared by The County Food Co.  

Thanks is extended to Bethel Church for providing the venue for this year’s banquet, to Chris Bender for his work in accessing and assisting with the set up of the auditorium, and to all of the “helping hands” who worked so hard to make the afternoon a success.  

Recognition award recipients for our 2014-2015 summer and winter/spring sport seasons were as follows:

Individual Sport Awards:  

  • Basketball C: Jamie Koebel 
  • Basketball D: Austin Doxtator 
  • Curling: Curtis Bender 
  • Floor Hockey: Meghan O’Donovan 
  • Golf: Jeff Paul 
  • Soccer: Monica George 
  • Softball C: Mike Hitchcock 
  • Softball D: Jake Dupuis 
  • Swimming: Becky Edwards 
  • T-Ball: Lucas Forte 
  • Track & Field: Franny Hitchcock  

Recipient of The Mark Perrier Memorial Award for 2015 (presented on a yearly basis to the athlete who displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort enjoyment and and sportsmanship in one or more sports) was Meghan O’Donovan.  

Special Recognition: Stratford & Area “Snipers”, participants in the 2015 SOO Floor Hockey Provincial Championships (Ottawa, May 7-9/15). 

Athletes:  Keenan Anglehart, Lindsay Fradgley, Matt Hands, Mike Hitchcock, Andrew Hoskin, Mike Kelemen, Tiffany Keller, Rob Kinnear, Meghan O’Donovan, Luke Patterson, James Taylor, Tyler Willis (and Drew Jackson [injured and unable to attend])

Coaches: Kerry Douglas (Head Coach), Glenn Patterson, Darrell Chalmers & Jane Larkworthy (Assistant Coaches)

May 24, 2015

A reminder that our annual Walk-a-Thon is scheduled for June 28 in Upper Queen’s Park (registration 9:30 am at the pavilion/bandshell, walk 10 - 11 am, lunch to follow). Open to anyone wishing to walk, run or roll through our lovely park system in support of SOO - Stratford & Area's athletes and programs.   Pre-registration is required.   Contact Tracy Dickenson (801-6093) for more information or to register.    

May 15, 2015

On May 7/15, our Stratford & Area “Snipers” floor hockey team took to the rails en route to Ottawa’s Carleton University for the 2015 SOO Floor Hockey Provincial Championships, an event comprising 24 teams and extending over four days. 

Thursday was primarily a travel day which saw participating athletes and coaches from across the province take a combination of trains, planes and buses to Ottawa.  After moving into their “weekend (residence) homes”, everyone enjoyed an on-campus buffet dinner in advance of attending an entertaining Opening Ceremonies which included mascots, cheerleaders and the lighting of the Games caldron by police officers completing the final leg of the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run.  

The competitive portion of the Games began Friday morning.    Our team played two four-shift divisioning (seeding) games, the first against  Scarboro (4-0 win) and the second against  Midland Black (5-1 loss).   Overall divisioning of the 24 participating teams yielded six groupings ranging from three to five teams each.   We were placed in the “Bruins” division (teams ranked 8th to 12th overall) with Midland Black, Guelph Juniors, Thunder Bay and Durham. 

Each division played a full round robin of games, with the top three teams in each receiving medals.   We kicked off game one of our four-game round robin versus Thunder Bay on Friday afternoon, losing 7-6 on a late-game comeback by T. Bay which saw them score three goals on their final three shifts.  With our remaining three round robin games yet to play, Saturday turned out to be a very busy day indeed.   Game two saw eventual gold medal-winning Midland Black squeak out a 5-4 win, breaking a 4-4 tie on a "top shelf beauty” in the closing seconds of the game.   After a short rest it was back to the floor for game three versus the silver medal-winning Guelph Juniors.   Still stinging from our late-game loss to Midland, we found ourselves behind 3-0 just two shifts in.   Despite a valiant mid-game pushback, the early deficit proved too much with the result being  a tough 7-4 loss.  Lunch and participation in “Healthy Athletes” (a program which provides participating athletes with free vision, hearing and gait assessments) seemed to inject new life into the troops.   Thanks to strong team play, the team put together its best game of the tourney, scoring a 6-4 win over Durham to secure fourth place.

Although assists were not officially recorded, forwards Andrew Hoskin and Tiffany Keller, defenseman Luke Patterson and goalkeepers Meghan O’Donovan and Matt Hands combined with scorers Mike Hitchcock (8), Tyler Willis (5), Rob Kinnear and Mike Kelemen (2 each), Lindsay Fradgley, Keenan Anglehart and James Taylor (1 each) for a very successful competition.   

Coaches Kerry Douglas, Glenn Patterson and I were very proud of our group who we felt were exceptional representatives of both our SOO community and the City of Stratford throughout this four-day event.    We would also like to  thank the athletes’ parents and caregivers, especially those who travelled to Ottawa to cheer us on,  for their support of the athletes and this program.

Jane Larkworthy


April 26, 2015

Our 2014-2015 5-pin season officially came to a close on April 26 with our local athletes playing host to their colleagues from six visiting communities during our annual Stratford & Area 5-pin Invitational.   

Three teams from each of Brantford, Cambridge, St. Thomas and Stratford participated in the morning shift, with Stratford athletes taking home nearly one third of the individual awards.   On the men’s side, Paul Wilker and Jake Dupuis took 1st in high single and high triple POA, respectively.  Luke Patterson was 2nd in high triple, while Sean Darling and Michael Ambrozic took 2nd and 3rd in high single POA.  On the ladies’ side, Lindsay Fradgely and Tiffany Keller placed one-two in high triple.

In a full afternoon shift that saw our bowlers join forces with athletes from K-W, Burlington and Windsor, Stratford athletes Courtney Moore and Franny Hitchcock took 1st and 2nd ladies’ high single honours, while Meghan O’Donovan and Carla DeWys placed one-two in ladies’ high triple.  

SOO - Stratford & Area wishes to recognize and thank sport manager Joyce Darling and all of our 5-pin volunteers for their support and dedication. We would also like to thank the staff at Mike’s Lanes, in particular Joe Shaw, for another great 5-pin season! 

April 25, 2015

SOO - Stratford & Area’s Provincial Floor Hockey Championships team continued its training program at the London Invitational Floor Hockey tournament today.    Taking part in this tournament provided a valuable opportunity for our athletes and coaches to work on team skills and identify areas on which to focus over the final two weeks of preparation for the Provincials.  

The team bolted out of the gate in their opening round robin game, scoring a convincing 7-3 win over the host London Ringers.   Following a ten- minute break, our troops returned to the floor to battle a spirited St. Thomas entry, eventually emerging from that back-and-forth contest with a 5-4 victory.  With fatigue beginning to set in, our athletes found themselves "behind the eight ball” early in the championship game to a strong Chatham team which had allowed only three goals in total during their two round robin games.   Despite a valiant mid-game push, the early deficit proved too large to overcome with the final result being a 11-6 loss.  

Our athletes also put on a good showing in the skills contest, with Tyler Willis placing 1st, Luke Patterson and James Taylor tying for second and Lindsay Fradgley grabbing 3rd.  

In what would best be described as a true team effort, six of our nine “runners” contributed goals over the day with Willis, Patterson, Fradgley, Mike Hitchcock, Keenan Anglehart and Rob Kinnear all succeeding in getting the best of opposing goalkeepers.    Mike Kelemen and Taylor turned in stellar defensive efforts as did goaltenders Meghan O’Donovan and Matt Hands, while Tiffany Keller provided strong checking.  The team would like to thank coaches Kerry, Darrell, Glenn and Jane and bus driver Wayne for a great day! 

March 15, 2015

March 15 saw fifteen of our local bowlers take part in the SOO Corner Pin Conference Provincial 5-pin Qualifier at Dickson Bowl in Cambridge.   According to SOO - Stratford & Area 5-pin manager Joyce Darling, all of our athletes enjoyed their day, with many also rolling one or more games over their season average.   Tiffany Keller and Lindsay Fradgley bested their season averages in all three of their games, while Mike Hitchcock’s single-game 198 exceeded his season average by a whopping 49 points!   Jake Dupuis (+29), Meghan O’Donovan (+13), Courtney Moore (+12) and Franny Hitchcock (+10) also produced notable average-beating single game results.     The athletes would like to thank volunteers Joyce, Lesa and Steve for accompanying them to this tournament, and driver Wayne for volunteering his time to get them safely to and from Cambridge.

March 8, 2015

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 8, SOO - Stratford & Area swim athletes Becky Edwards, Andrew Hoskin and Tiffany Keller along with three members of the O’Donovan family (Head Coach Patty, driver Mike and athlete volunteer Meghan)  began their journey to Windsor, host of this year's Provincial Swim Qualifier for our conference.   Our  group joined close to 100 swimmers from seven other communities in a long but exciting day of races at what could only be described as a “world class aquatics facility”.  Our three performed exceptionally well, with each placing among the top three spots in several of their races.   Becky grabbed second place in four of her five events (25M & 50M backstroke and 25M & 50M freestyle) and fourth in her fifth event (100m freestyle).   Andrew, who topped the podium in 100m freestyle, also grabbed a second (25M freestyle) and third (50M freestyle) place finish.   Tiffany, who also swam five events, placed first in 25M breaststroke, second in 50M breaststroke and third in both 25M and 50M freestyle.   Well done, everyone!

February 21, 2015  

On Saturday, February 21, Stratford Northwestern Secondary School played host to our annual SOO - Stratford & Area Floor Hockey ‘C’ Invitational Tournament.  Teams from Guelph and LaSalle-Windsor joined our Stratford entry in a three-team round robin format which also included a semi-final and final game.   Round robin action saw our athletes rebound from a 9-3 opening game  loss to Guelph with an exciting 6-5 win over a strong LaSalle team.    With undefeated Guelph advancing directly to the final, Stratford faced LaSalle in the semi-final, losing that contest 8-1.   With momentum on their side, LaSalle managed to grab first place honours, holding off Guelph 4-3 in a back-and-forth, nail biting final.    In the shootout competition, Stratford goalkeeper Meghan O’Donovan allowed only two goals on 15 shots to take first place  among goalies,  while Stratford shooters Lindsay Fradgley, Mike Kelemen and Brooke Dahm placed first, second and third, respectively.    Many thanks to London referees Dennis, Bill and Anthony for volunteering their time and expertise,  and to all of our local volunteers whose “many hands made very light work”.

February 14, 2015

Sixteen of our  Stratford & Area curling athletes traveled to Ilderton on Valentine’s Day to join teams from Brantford and host Ilderton in early draw action of the annual Ilderton Fun Spiel.   Each of our four entries played two four-end games, with the athletes rotating through the delivery order to play a different position each end.  Everyone had a great time and, as an added bonus, our teams won five of their eight games!     The athletes would like to thank their coaches Marg and Jerry Dillow, Deb Best, Chris Bender, Steve Wray and Jane Larkworthy for their help on and off the ice and the many supporters who attended to cheer them on.   Special thanks also goes out to bus driver Wayne for braving "less-than-stellar” driving conditions to deliver everyone safely to and from this bonspiel.  

February 1, 2015

Two of our Stratford & Area swim athletes took part in the Cambridge swim meet held February 1 at the Wilmot Centre in New Hamburg.    Chris Haehnel finished first in 25 m backstroke, second in 25 m freestyle and 4th in 50 m backstroke while Becky Edwards picked up two seconds (25 m free, 50 m back), a third (50 m free) and a fourth (25 m back).     Becky, Chris and our other competitive swimmers are continuing their training in preparation for March 8 Provincial Qualifier in Windsor.     A big “thanks” to head swim coach Patty O’Donovan for supervising Chris' and Becky’s races and for getting them to and from this competition.  

January 25, 2015

On Sunday, January 25/15, our Stratford & Area ‘C’ and ‘D' basketball teams traveled to Guelph for a day of hoops and fun.   After dropping a close opening contest to Hamilton, our 13-athlete ‘D’ team stormed back with back-to-back wins over Guelph and Cambridge.    Our 9-member ‘C’ improved their play steadily over the course of the day, winning their third game over London after tough losses to Brampton and Guelph in their first two games.   Thanks goes out to ‘D’ coaches Jesse, James and Traci, ‘C’ coaches Darrell, Charlene and Kerry, bus driver Wayne and our many  enthusiastic supporters for helping to make it a great day!

October 20, 2014

On Monday, October 20/14, the City of Stratford recognized several of our SOO - Stratford & Area athletes and coaches for their gold medal accomplishments.  Those honoured included Lindsay Fradgley (Provincial and National gold medalist in 5-pin bowling), Graham Knott (Provincial gold medalist in swimming), Chris Nicoll (Provincial gold medalist in 5-pin), and our curling team of Chris Nicoll, Tiffany Keller, Michael Dale, Rick Tourigny, Sean Darling and coaches Marg and Jerry Dillow (2014 SOO OCA Tankard ‘B’ Champions).    A huge “thank you" to the to the City of Stratford for including our organization in this event and to the family members and friends of the athletes who attended the ceremony. 

August 4, 2014

London Par 3 Golf Tournament

Originally scheduled for July 28, the weather-delayed London Par 3 Golf Tournament “hit the links” of London’s Parkside 9 golf course on a sunny and warm August 4.  Sixty four Special Olympics golfers from several different communities, including ten from Stratford, enjoyed a terrific day of golf, fun and food under perfect golfing skies.   Our Stratford contingent had an impressive showing, indeed, with Jeremiah Klassen and Lindsay Fradgley placing first among the 16 participating groupings to take first place honours, Rick Tourigny and Meghan O’Donovan finishing second, Mike Hitchcock, Kyle Fawcett-Robinson, Sean Darling and Jeff Paul tying for third, and Tammi Doogan and Steven Schultz grabbing fifth.  Hitchcock, Fawcett-Robinson, Darling and Paul finished third in the team putting competition, while Klassen and Fawcett-Robinson were selected by tournament convenor Rick Walker as Stratford’s “most sportsmanlike golfers”.   Thanks goes out to golf volunteers Larry, Ross, Joyce and Nicole, and to driver Wayne, for making this Civic Holiday competition a reality for our athletes.  


June 28, 2014

London Invitational Softball Tournament

A bus filled to the brim with athletes, coaches and supporters pulled away from the YMCA bright and early on the morning of June 28 en route to London’s Stronach Park for the annual SOO - London Invitational Softball Tournament.   On what turned out to be a rain-free but very hot day, our two Stratford teams had a terrific showing with each team winning two of their three games.   After dropping a (10-7) squeaker to Woodstock, our ‘C’ team pulled off back-to-back wins over Simcoe (8-6) and Guelph (8-0), while in 'D’ action, our squad rebounded from a (4-1) opening game loss  to Woodstock with victories over London Green (4-1) and London Black (5-0).  In what was a terrific day of softball and fun,  the coaches were particularly pleased with the effort put forward by all our athletes to work together as a team both on and off the field.  Thanks are extended to ‘C’ coaches Glenn, Darrell, Charlene and Tyler, ‘D’ coaches Jesse, James and Cheryl, and athlete-volunteer Chris for their time and support of our athletes.  Special thanks goes to bus driver Wayne for generously volunteering his time and for getting our athletes safely to and from London.


June 7, 2014

3rd Annual SOO - Stratford & Area Walk-a-Thon

Athletes, supporters and volunteers awoke to what could only be described as perfect weather conditions for today's 3rd Annual "Walk-a-Thon” in Upper Queen’s Park.  

Since good weather tends to generate good spirits, many of today's participants arrived well in advance of the 9:30 am registration time, taking advantage of a perfect opportunity to enjoy the pristine day, catch up with friends and make new acquaintances.  

Once all the pledge forms had been collected, everyone gathered for a group photo before taking part in a fast-paced, fun warm-up led by Elizabeth (and CC Jane who did her best to keep up!).  With crossing guards Dave, Kerry and Mike dispatched to their posts, the group started off on their  way around the sidewalk encompassing our beautiful parkland.   With a route that lends itself perfectly to walking, running, riding or  “rolling”, each participant did what was comfortable for him or her, from walking a single round to running multiple laps - all with great enthusiasm!

With lunch arriving shortly after 11:00 am, everyone moved into the shade of the pavilion for pizza and a drink.  The event concluded with fundraising coordinator Tracy thanking the “walkers”, their supporters and our many participating volunteers for helping to make this year's event another great success.  

SOO - Stratford & Area wishes to thank to event supporters Stratford Printing & Graphics and New Orleans Pizza,  our participating athletes, families and agencies, the many members of the community who so generously pledged our walkers,  photographer Patty, treasurer Steve and everyone else whose efforts contributed to another hugely successful fundraising event … raising over $1500 in support of our athletes and programs.   Thank you, all!  


May 24, 2014

2014 SOO - Stratford & Area Athlete Banquet  

On Saturday, May 24/14, close to 130 athletes, volunteers and supporters gathered to celebrate SOO - Stratford & Area’s past year's sport programs and other activities. 

A short but lively slideshow, prepared by Patty Schenck and featuring a cross section of sports and other events, set the celebratory tone of the afternoon.   Interim Community Coordinator Jane Larkworthy, who co-hosted the proceedings with the assistance of fellow Executive Committee members Steve Wray, Tracy Dickenson, Patty O’Donovan and Kerry Douglas, then welcomed all those in attendance and thanked everyone for taking time from their busy weekend (and on such a nice day!) to join in the festivities. Web site designer Matt Brickman then briefly reviewed the various sections of our local web site (, which is now “up and running”, emphasizing a variety of pages (“News Flash” [where important items such as practice cancellations appear], “News”, “Events” [our calendar of what’s going on and when], and “Supporters” [those who make our programs possible through their financial and/or “in-kind” support].   Participation certificates and “Walk-a Thon” pledge forms were presented to all athletes in attendance after which volunteer representatives spoke briefly about the past season for each of our 12 sport programs and presented the yearly award for that sport (to the athlete from that program deemed to be “most dedicated” based on consistent attendance, effort, enjoyment and sportsmanship).   Following the presentation of the Mark Perrier Memorial Award and formal recognition of our volunteers, attendees were treated to a delicious catered meal (pasta, grilled vegetables, coleslaw, roll and apple crisp with custard) prepared by The County Food Co.

Thanks goes to Chris Bender for his work in accessing and assisting to set up the auditorium, the "many other pairs of hands" who helped with set-up and tear-down, those who served, cleaned up and left the venue sparkling clean following the meal, and the athletes, coaches and volunteers in attendance.   And last, but not least, a huge “thank you” to the Executive Committee for all their work in advance of and during the afternoon.

Below is a list of recognition and award recipients:

Individual Sport Awards (awarded to the athlete who "displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort, enjoyment and sportsmanship") ; also see "Photos" section

  • Basketball C: Meghan O'Donovan
  • Basketball D: Nicholas Scott
  • 5-Pin Bowling: Michael Ambrozic
  • Curling: Gerald Adair
  • Floor Hockey: Luke Patterson
  • Golf: Steven Schultz
  • Soccer: Lindsay Fradgley
  • Softball C: Darcy McDermott
  • Softball D: Mike Kelemen
  • Swimming: Chris Haehnel
  • T-Ball: Colin O'Connor
  • Track & Field: Michael Mainland

Mark Perrier Memorial Award (awarded on a yearly basis to the athlete who  displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort, enjoyment and sportsmanship in one or more sports):

  • Darcy McDermott

2014 SOO - OCA ‘B' Championship banner:

  • Chris Nicoll (skip), Tiffany Keller, Michael Dale, Rick Tourigny & Sean Darling; coaches Marg and Jerry Dillow

Volunteer 'Years of Service’ pins:

  • 5 year:  Jesse Smith, Patti Johnston
  • 10-year: Joyce Darling, Marg Dillow, Jerry Dillow, Mike O’Donovan, Jane Larkworthy
  • 15-year: Patty O’Donovan, Shirley Tourigny (accepted by her son, Rick)


April 27, 2014

Stratford 5-pin Invitational

On Sunday, April 27, Mike’s Lanes (Stratford) played host to our annual SOO - Stratford & Area 5-pin Invitational.  Sixty four bowlers, including a large contingent of our local athletes and their visitors from K-W and Simcoe, participated in a morning or afternoon shift in which each athlete bowled three games.   All of our local athletes played well, with a number producing exceptional individual (“pins over average”) performances.   In the morning shift, Travis Carter placed 3rd in the “High Single - Male” category while in the afternoon shift, Meghan O’Donovan (1st), Jo-Jo Kidd (3rd), Luke Patterson (2nd) and Skyler Fahey (3rd) grabbed “High Triple” honours.   Local “High Single” winners in the afternoon shift included Karen Rouselle (3rd), Josh Fex (1st) and Jadyn Smart (3rd).   Thanks goes out to our 5-pin sport club manager Barb Mitchell and all her volunteers for their time and dedication this past season.   We’d also like to thank Joe Shaw of Mike’s Lanes for “going above and beyond” each week to ensure that this program is successful and that every athlete feels welcome.  

April 26, 2014

Red Foster Provincial Floor Hockey Qualifier

On Saturday, April 26, fifteen floor hockey athletes and their coaches traveled to London to compete in the Red Foster Provincial Floor Hockey Qualifier.   An impressive three-game divisioning round performance placed our charges in the tough McGugan (“C”) pool with perennial top-contenders LaSalle, Chatham and Brantford.   With a spot at the 2015 Provincial Floor Hockey Championships on the line all three round robin games were competitive, high-energy and physical.    Perseverance and effort paid big dividends with our group outshooting (and often outplaying) their opponents to grab second place overall (with a win, a loss and a tie).   Despite playing the equivalent of four full games in a span of six hours, our players gave everything they had on every shift.  Coaches Kerry Douglas, Glenn Patterson and Tyler McKenny were very pleased with the overall team effort put forward over the course of a long and physically challenging day.   Well done, everyone!

March 1, 2014

K-W Invitational Swim Meet

On Saturday, March 1, five of our Stratford & Area swimming athletes, their coaches and supporters travelled to Waterloo for a “splashing good time” and action-packed day in the  Wilfred Laurier University pool. 

Freestyle specialist Andrew Hoskin picked up two seconds (25 m and 100 m) and a third (50 m), shaving five seconds off his 100 m event in the process.

Graham Knott, who participated in four different events over the course of the day, captured two first place finishes, topping all challengers in the 50 m free and 100 IM.  Knott also bested his 50 m butterfly by two seconds to grab a third in that event.

Chris Haehnel made a grand entrance in his first ever swim meet, hitting the podium in three of his four events with a first in the 25 m backstroke, second in the 25 m free and third in the 50 m back.

Becky Edwards did well in both the freestyle and backstroke events, finishing in the middle of the pack in each heat and picking up a second (25 m back) and third (25 m free) in her division.

Sean Darling gave it his all in his 25 m and 50 m freestyle races, finishing second in both.  He also did an awesome job cheering the other swimmers on.

Special thanks is extended to coaches Trish Edye and Charlene Ross, and to our bus driver, Wayne McKenny, for seeing that everyone got to and from Waterloo safely.

Feb. 22, 2014

Stratford Invitational ‘C’ Floor Hockey Tournament

On February 22, our Stratford & Area floor hockey athletes, coaches and volunteers joined together to welcome visiting teams from Brantford, Guelph and LaSalle for a terrific day of competition and fun.  

Each of the four participating teams played three games, with only two of those six games being won by more than two goals.  

Finishing atop the standings was the LaSalle Spirit with a two-win, one-tie record.   Stratford's Tyler Willis topped a very talented group of snipers to claim the shoot-out crown, taking home a 2014 Olympic souvenir scarf courtesy of Patty O’Donovan. 

Thanks goes out to all those who contributed to the success of this year’s event:  referees Bill, Denis and Anthony who traveled from London to volunteer their time and officiating skills; the Avon Maitland District School Board for generously providing such a great competition venue; Northwestern SS and its wonderful custodial staff; New Orlean’s pizza; our visiting teams and supporters; and, of course, our local volunteers.  Thank you, everyone!

Feb. 15, 2014

Stratford Invitational ‘C’ and ‘D’ Basketball Tournament

Our 2nd Annual SOO - Stratford & Area ‘C’ & ‘D’ Basketball Invitational was held at Stratford Central Secondary School.   Two teams from each of Guelph , LaSalle and Windsor (ICHA) joined our two Stratford entries in two four-team divisions totalling 87 athletes.

It was a fun-filled day of basketball, friendship and sportsmanship.  Nothing is better than listening to these athletes tell you how excited they are to play one of their favourite sports and also to be in “a tournament just like the Olympics right now”.  Although we had a few lop-sided games there were some pretty exciting games as well.   In multiple games in the C division I witnessed athletes draining three-pointers which was very exciting.

I think one of the biggest highlights of the day was the catered lunch by Boston Pizza.   The athletes and coaches just loved the pasta, caesar salad and rolls that were served.

A successful tournament cannot be accomplished without the tireless efforts of our volunteers and officials.  A huge thanks to our wonderful volunteers who assisted with the scorekeeping as well as the six young male and female high school students who officiated. Thanks also goes out to our local Executive Committee members who assisted with registration, lunch and other general duties. Last, but not least, a big “thank you” to my assistant coaches, Charlene Ross and Helen Fulton, who helped out in every capacity.

We hope everyone had as much fun participating as we did hosting this event.  Best of luck with the remainder of your season.  Hope to see you again next year!

(submitted by Anne-Marie Fulton, Head Coach, Basketball ‘C’)

Feb. 15, 2014

Ilderton Fun Spiel

February 15 was a busy day, indeed, for our community.  In addition to hosting our annual basketball tournament, eleven of our SOO - Stratford & Area athletes took part in the annual Ilderton Fun Spiel hosted by the Ilderton Curling Club (ICC) and London-Ilderton SO Sweepers.  

In addition to Stratford’s three entries, teams from Woodstock, St. Thomas, Brantford, Windsor and host Ilderton rounded out the full 16-team complement. 

All our Stratford curling athletes enjoyed the day and experienced great success.  Team Moses (Aaron Moses, Gerald Adair, Steven Schultz and Curtis Bender) and Team Nicoll (Chris Nicoll, Norman Schenck, Derek Wray and Crystal Dale) won both their games, while Team Doogan (Tammi Doogan, Michael Dale, Rick Tourigny and Jennifer Collins (Ilderton)) lost a tight first game and tied their second.

Thanks goes out to coaches Jane Killer, Deb Best, Steve Wray, Chris Bender and Marg and Jerry Dillow for overseeing the day, and to Patty Schenck for her photographic skills.    We would also like to thank our hosts Dee and Frank Hoevenaars, their many volunteers and ICC manager Chris Christensen and his staff for another terrific day of curling and fun.


2014 SOO OCA Provincial Curling Championships

On Saturday, February 1, coaches Marg and Jerry Dillow accompanied SOO - Stratford & Area curlers Chris Nicoll, Tiffany Keller, Michael Dale, Rick Tourigny and Sean Darling to Smiths Falls to take part in the SOO OCA Provincial Championships held during The Travelers Tankard 2014 Ontario Men’s Provincial Curling Championship.  Joining Team Nicoll at this year’s event were Ottawa A, Port Elgin A, and, Nicoll’s opponent on the day, Ron Kiley of Kingston.

With the Stratford Country Club parking lot still in darkness and the forecast calling for less than ideal driving conditions, Stratford Airporter driver Ross MacSorley enthusiastically headed out on what could best be described as true “adventure”.   The group arrived at their destination part way through the Bice vs. Howard Page (1 vs. 2) game, one which turned out to be a preview of Sunday’s Men’s final.  At the conclusion of the Page game each of the four Special Olympics teams practiced briefly and were then paraded out to the ice to begin their four-end games. 

In the ‘B’ Championship game, Team Nicoll bolted out of the gate, scoring a single in the first end then stealing three in the second to take a 4-0 lead at the half way point of the contest.  With Kiley taking one in the third and positioning his team to even the score in the final end, Keller’s draw for second shot essentially ended the Kingston comeback, sealing the win for the Stratford fivesome.  

Following the game the curlers were presented with the SOO OCA Provincial ‘B’ Championship banner by the Ontario Curling Association and with gifts by members of local Law Enforcement on behalf of the Host Committee. 

By all accounts the victory was a true team effort, with leads Darling and Tourigny setting up the ends, Dale providing a steadying hand at second, vice Keller demonstrating some terrific shotmaking and skip Nicoll making good decisions in the house.   Well done, everyone!

SOO - Stratford & Area would like to extend our sincerest thanks coaches Jerry and Marg Dillow for “going above and beyond” in accompanying our athletes and skillfully guiding them through this prestigious competition.   We would also like to thank Stratford Airporter, our transportation service provider for this event.  We would particularly like to recognize the efforts of driver Ross MacSorley, who safely delivered our athletes and coaches to Smiths Falls and home again through some difficult weather conditions.  


June 8, 2013

2nd Annual SOO - Stratford & Area Walk-a-Thon

 Much to the delight (and relief!) of athletes and organizers alike, the weather for today's 2nd Annual "Walk-a-Thon" turned out to be "miles ahead" of that experienced by participants in last year's inaugural event during which the athletes attempted to dodge the rain drops to fulfil their walking commitment.  

Warmer, sunnier and generally more pleasant conditions greeted our 30 participating athletes as they arrived for registration at the Upper Queens' Park pavilion, posed for a group photo, enthusiastically joined in a pre-walk a warm-up led by coach Jenna, then made their way around the sidewalk encompassing our beautiful parkland.  It was such a great day that we were even joined by surprise guest walkers -  Brett, Nathan and Drew of the Stratford Cullitons!  WOW!   

Since a solid hour of walking tends to drum up an appetite,  the event concluded with everyone adjourning to the comfort of the pavilion to enjoy a lunch of  pizza, snacks and drinks.  Then fundraising coordinator Tracy made her much-anticipated moment:  That this year's event had raised close to $2600 in pledges in support of our local athletes and programs.  Incredible!!!  

Many thanks to event supporters Stratford Printing & Graphics and New Orleans Pizza,  our participating athletes, families and agencies, the many members of the community who so generously pledged our walkers,  crossing guards Patrick, Kerry and Mike, and everyone else whose efforts contributed to another hugely successful fundraising event.   


May 25, 2013

2013 SOO - Stratford & Area Athlete Banquet  

Community Coordinator Matthew MacDonald served as the Master of Ceremonies for this afternoon's SOO - Stratford & Area annual Sport Banquet, a celebration of the past year of sport and other activities involving our local athletes and volunteers. 

Over 100 athletes, volunteers and family members attended the function which included a slide show (prepared by Patti Schenck), an introduction to the community's soon-to-be-launched web site (prepared and presented by Matt Brickman), the presentation of plaques to a number of our major supporters, the awarding of participation certificates to our 2012-2013 athletes, season wrap-ups and award presentations by each of our 12 head sport coaches, the awarding of The Mark Perrier Memorial Award and a delicious meal (including do-it-yourself sundaes - toppings generously supplied by Richardson Foods).    

Thanks goes to Stratford Northwestern Secondary School's Lori Shurgold and her students for preparing the pasta portion of the meal, Matthew's family members (wife Shannon, sons Caleb, Jonas, Nolan and Brandon) for assisting with everything from set-up and tear-down to food preparation, serving and photography, and the athletes, coaches and volunteers in attendance.  Thanks also to the members of our "small but mighty" Executive Committee for all their work in advance of and during the afternoon.

The following is a list of recognition and award recipients:

Supporters:  The City of Stratford, The Stratford Country Club, The Dominion House, The Stratford Municipal Golf Course, Mike's Bowling Lanes, First Student Canada - Stratford

Individual Sport Awards (awarded to the athlete who "displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort, enjoyment and sportsmanship") ; also see "Photos" section

  • Basketball C: Jamie Koebel
  • Basketball D: Josh Fex
  • 5-Pin Bowling: Connor McIntosh
  • Curling: Derek Wray
  • Floor Hockey: Mike Kelemen
  • Golf: Rick Tourigny
  • Soccer: Graham Knott
  • Softball C: BJ Moses
  • Softball D: Kyle Fawcett-Robinson
  • Swimming: Tiffany Keller
  • T-Ball: Monica George
  • Track & Field: Franny Hitchcock

Mark Perrier Memorial Award (awarded on a yearly basis to the athlete who  displayed an extraordinary level of dedication through consistent attendance, effort, enjoyment and sportsmanship in one or more sports):

  • Mike Kelemen

2013 SOO - OCA 'A' Championship banner:

  • Chris Nicoll (skip), Aaron Moses, Gerald Adair, Meghan O'Donovan, Crystal Dale; coaches Marg Dillow and Jane Killer