On Tuesday, the Special Olympics Mecklenburg County 2017 spring games begin with the opening ceremonies at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Over the course of three days, more than 1,200 athletes will participate in track and field, swimming, motor activities and softball.
One softball team, the Mecklenburg Renegades, exemplifies what it means to be a special olympics athlete.
“We win together, we lose together,” Melvin Love said. “We build ourselves up.”
Melvin Love plays catcher for the Renegades. His brother Leonard is the head coach.
“I came out one practice to just to drop him off,” Leonard Love said. “I was asked to help, and I’ve been out here ever since.”
That was five years ago. A former App State football player, Love says the Renegades enjoy all the same things his teams did.
“When they’re having fun, I’m having fun,” Love said. “If there’s a mistake made, it’s just like coaching. You treat it like anything else.
Like any other team, the Renegades have a few top priorities.
“Win,” Eddie Tacroux said. “Do a good job.”
“Win,” Sam Tacroux echoed.
“Hopefully win a gold medal,” Tom McCarter said. “If not, it doesn’t matter. Just have fun.”
“I don’t care about winning,” Kaitlyn Bethune said. “I care about having fun with my team, because it makes you feel like a true winner.”
That’s an attitude we can all learn from. After all sports are supposed to be fun. For these athletes, the Renegades are more than a team.
“They’re family to me,” Roger Wilson said.
“Good friends,” Eddie Tacroux said. “All them is family now.”
“The only thing I love, is this is the perfect team,” Sam Tacroux said. “I love everybody.”
A team full of love, and full of appreciation.
“Thank you all for coming,” Melvin Love said. “Renegades all the way!”