Cory LaJeunesse

Kyle Spearing strikes gold at Special Olympics golf tournament

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local Special Olympian has struck gold on the links.

Kyle Spearing, 25, won the gold medal at the Special Olympics North America (SONA) golf tournament. He competed in the level five, division six category.

The tournament was held June 26-28 in Seattle.

Spearing, who shot 103, 99 and 91 in his three rounds, said “it was really cool” to come home with the gold medal in his division. He attributed his improvements over the three days to not being as nervous as the tournament went on.

Spearing said he wasn’t sure how he placed until organizers called the winners up and arranged them according to how they finished.

“They put is in place and I sat in the first place chair,” said Spearing.

This was his biggest finish yet at a SONA golf tournament, as Spearing also has two silver medals to his credit. He said he has been golfing for about ten years, the last six of which have been with coach Cory Lajeunesse at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Spearing said he golfs multiple times per week. He said he is at Sutton Creek “mostly every day, when I’m not working, I’m here practicing and playing.”

“He’s playing four times per week, maybe five,” said Lajeunesse. “He gets his fair share of golf in.”

Spearing added his parents made the trip to Seattle, which made the experience even more special.

Lajeunesse said the SONA golf tournament is the biggest championships between the United States and Canada outside of the world championships.

Kyle Spearing won gold at the recent SONA golf tournament in Seattle, Washington. He competed in level five, division six.

Kyle Spearing won gold at the recent SONA golf tournament in Seattle, Washington. He competed in level five, division six.

“It was unique this year because they didn’t pair you with players in your division,” Lajeunesse stated. “This year, they split us up.”

Lajeunesse knew that Spearing was down two shots heading into the final round. The eventual silver medalist shot 99, 101 and 95 over the three days. He said they learned about five minutes before the actual medal presentation that Spearing won the gold.

“I think he got more comfortable with the course,” Lajeunesse said of the improvement over the three days.

Lajeunesse worked with Spearing each day on what he had to do and how he had to prepare.

“In the end, it all comes down to the short game,” said Lajeunesse.

They won’t have too much time to rest on laurels, as Spearing will be golfing in the Special Olympics provincial tournament in Mississauga this weekend. If he does well there, he could qualify for the national golf tournament which will be next year.

Local golfer returns home with silver medal from Special Olympics tournament

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local golfer has come home with a silver medal from the Special Olympics North America (SONA) golf tournament.

Kyle Spearing took second in his category – Level 5, Division 4 – and captured the silver following three days of golf last month in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Spearing shot 303 for the three rounds of golf.

“It feels good,” said Spearing, who admitted he was “a little nervous” before the tournament.

Kyle Spearing shows the medal he won during last month’s Special Olympics North America golf tournament in Port St. Lucie, Florida

Kyle Spearing shows the medal he won during last month’s Special Olympics North America golf tournament in Port St. Lucie, Florida

“It was a great tournament overall,” said coach Cory Lajeunesse. “After the first round, he was tenth overall.”

Spearing was in 11th overall after the second round but the scores were then calculated to match players with similar scores in the last round.

Spearing competed at the SONA level last year but this year moved from Level 4 to Level 5, meaning he moved from playing nine holes per round to 18 holes per round. While he trained three to four times per week at Sutton Creek Golf Club in preparation for the Special Olympics tournament, Spearing didn’t end up having to worry about walking the course for the three days the tournament was held as organizers permitted use of carts.

“It took a lot off of his shoulders when he learned he could use a cart,” said Lajeunesse.

Spearing said he didn’t know how he did until the third and final round was complete but Lajeunesse knew heading into the final round that Spearing had a shot at winning.

“He had a one-stroke lead going into the final round,” said Lajeunesse. However, Spearing was overtaken in the final round and was edged out by one stroke.

Coming home with a silver was still pleasing for Spearing. Lajeunesse said he was excited as well, though noted there were shots left on the course that could have produced a different result.

“Overall, it was an awesome experience,” said Lajeunesse.

Kyle Spearing (left) stands with coach Cory Lajeunesse last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Kyle Spearing (left) stands with coach Cory Lajeunesse last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Spearing also got an added bonus while golfing in Florida.

“My grandpa made it down from Pittsburgh,” said Spearing. “He was very glad I got second, very happy.”

His parents and family were also able to attend the tournament.

The silver medal was described as another “stepping stone” in Spearing’s long-term plan, which is to compete at the Special Olympics world games. Spearing has already qualified for the provincial games next July in Mississauga and if he does well there, he will qualify for the nationals in 2018. From there, he would advance to the world tournament in 2019.

Spearing added the best parts of his game are putting and driving the ball, though said he wants to work on his chipping. He will work on getting stronger and will continue to work on his golf game even as the colder weather approaches.

Lajeunesse added they thank all who have supported Spearing in his efforts as he tries to reach his goals. That includes those who golf at Sutton Creek and the community as a whole. The tournament in Port St. Lucie was a great learning experience, Lajeunesse continued, noting Spearing got to experience what it was like to travel and golf for three straight days.

Golf for Kyle tournament helps Special Olympian heading to Florida

 

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Essex County golfers teed off on Sunday afternoon to help one local Special Olympian get closer to achieving his goals.

Over 60 participants headed to Sutton Creek Golf Club last Sunday for the “Golf for Kyle” tournament. Proceeds from the day will help Kyle Spearing, 24, travel to the Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament in Port St. Lucie, Florida at the end of September.

“Everybody who plays at Sutton Creek has become very familiar with Kyle and has embraced him over the years,” said Cory Lajeunesse, who has coached Spearing for five years. “Their support is tremendous. There are people who aren’t playing today who have paid entry fees because they can’t be here but they want to support him.”

Spearing was selected as one of 22 athletes to play with Team Canada in this year’s tournament. Last year’s “Golf for Kyle” fundraiser drew in 48 participants who helped Spearing get to South Carolina for the 2015 Golf Invitational. Lajeunesse estimated that the tournament would raise around $5,000 for Kyle, with any additional funds going back to the LaSalle Windsor Special Olympics golf program.

Kyle Spearing (right) prepares to hit the links with his coach Cory Lajeunesse before the 2016 Golf for Kyle tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club on Sept. 11. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

Kyle Spearing (right) prepares to hit the links with his coach Cory Lajeunesse before the 2016 Golf for Kyle tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club on Sept. 11. Photo by: Adam D’Andrea

“For us to go down to Florida obviously there are travel arrangements, hotels,” he said. “This year’s going to be a little bit better because we rented a condo instead of a hotel room so we can all stay together and save some costs.”

According to Lajeunesse, Spearing will have to overcome “a bit of a curveball” this year. While Spearing generally competes at the nine-hole level, he has been asked to move up to the 18-hole level due to the tournament’s quota restrictions.

“We took on that challenge this year to go down, so he’s currently training how to walk 18 holes, and we’ve got to go down and play 18 holes three days in a row. So it’s going to be a task in itself and a challenge but I think we’re more than prepared,” said Lajeunesse. “He shoots the scores to be there, so why not get your feet wet and try it out?”

Spearing said he feels good about seeing people come together to help him achieve his goals and is excited to head to Florida. The Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament runs from September 29 until October 2.

Inclusive hiring highlighted at Community Living Essex County golf tournament

 

By RTT Staff

 

The 26th annual Community Living Essex County (CLEC) was held last Thursday and early returns are positive.

The tournament was also used to highlight the benefits of inclusive hiring as the host golf course hires those with intellectual disabilities.

The tournament was a sell-out as all 144 spots were filled. A final fundraising total will not be known for a few weeks but CLEC administration was pleased with how things went, especially after hosts Sutton Creek Golf Club donated the $650 that went unclaimed in the skins game back to the non-profit agency.

“We had an outstanding experience,” said Tony DeSantis, CLEC’s manager of community relations.

Leamington captured the Municipal Cup as part of Community Living Essex County’s 26th annual golf tournament last Thursday. From left: Scott Legault, CLEC manager of community relations Tony DeSantis, Leamington Mayor John Paterson and Kyle Spearing. Both Legault and Spearing are supported by CLEC with Spearing also being employed at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Leamington captured the Municipal Cup as part of Community Living Essex County’s 26th annual golf tournament last Thursday. From left: Scott Legault, CLEC manager of community relations Tony DeSantis, Leamington Mayor John Paterson and Kyle Spearing. Both Legault and Spearing are supported by CLEC with Spearing also being employed at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Head golf professional Cory LaJeunesse noted that the course uses CLEC to hire staff with intellectual disabilities, including Kyle Spearing of Amherstburg. LaJeunesse said it has been “an absolute pleasure” to work with CLEC and said Spearing has been an inspiration to both staff and guests alike.

LaJeunesse encouraged other businesses to hire those with intellectual disabilities with CLEC’s Career Compass arm looking to fulfill such requests. LaJeunesse said there are many people with disabilities ready, willing and able to get to work.

“They dress the part and they work their butt off,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to have Kyle. We’re more than willing to take some more.”

Spearing thanked both Sutton Creek and CLEC for the support and also thanked the golfers for coming out.

“Without your support, the programs Community Living Essex County administers would not be available to people like myself,” said Spearing.

As part of the tournament, CLEC also offers the “Municipal Cup,” given to the team from the winning municipality. This year, Leamington took home the cup and ended the town of LaSalle’s five-year winning streak.

DeSantis said they started the “Municipal Cup” component of the tournament in 2009 as a way to recognize and reinforce the partnership the agency has with the local municipalities. CLEC supports over 600 people with intellectual disabilities and their families across Essex County.