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Special Olympics Team From Westchester Stars At Soccer Tournament

The New Rochelle Special Olympic Team shined in its first event.
The New Rochelle Special Olympic Team shined in its first event. Photo Credit: Contributed

Some of New Rochelle’s finest athletes came together for a special competition that saw them take home the silver medal.

Athletes from the New Rochelle Special Olympics team played together against rival schools recently at the Regional Fall Sports Festival in Beacon, competing in the popular soccer tournament for the first time and finishing second.

Head coach Rhonda Boychews said that she “saw something amazing happen” at the tournament over the weekend: increased confidence for her players.

Boychews has coached the New Rochelle Special Olympics team in the Pioneer Sports School League for six seasons, though this was the first time they’ve competed in soccer. The team initially started with a group of 18 students who played only basketball, though those ranks have swelled to nearly 40 high school and middle school athletes, who compete against 16 other teams.

The athletes now compete in a variety of different sports all year long, including floor hockey, volleyball, soccer and basketball throughout the lower Hudson Valley. Boychews said that she has seen incredible improvement in her team in a short time.

“I watched as their confidence grew with each game,” she said. "They experienced real competition with real failure and real success. In the end, they came away with three hard-earned goals and a second-place finish in their division.

"That was a huge accomplishment for them, to be able to learn the game and to be able to improve and see success and to see failures. They did that on Sunday and I was proud of them for that."

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