Kyle Spearing

Local Special Olympian returns from national games with a bronze

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local golfer went to the Special Olympics Canadian National Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and came home with a bronze medal.

Kyle Spearing captured third place in division three of the golf competition after shooting 52, 54 and 55 in the three nine-hole rounds at the tournament. His scores in the first two rounds put him in division three and he finished 16th overall.

“It was a good experience,” said Spearing. “It was my first time at nationals.”

Spearing said “I really liked the course” and further stated that he felt good about finishing third. He added he was satisfied with how he did.

Kyle Spearing won a bronze medal at the recent Special Olympics national golf tournament.

“It was a good time and good experience,” he said. “I got to meet new friends.”

Spearing added he also got to see friends he met at other Special Olympics tournaments.

While he waits to see if he is chosen for the national team, Spearing practices almost every day at Sutton Creek Golf Club where he is coached by Cory LaJeunesse. LaJeunesse said it was the 50th anniversary for Special Olympics and that the experience “was the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

LaJeunesse said he was pleased with how Spearing did.

“He did amazing overall,” he said. “There’s some good talent out there.”

They now wait to see if Spearing makes the national team and Spearing said he’s taking it “day by day.” LaJeunesse said if he doesn’t make it, it’s another four-year process to try again but they are going to keep working at it. He added that Spearing will have to continue to focus and “grind a little harder” as he works towards his goal.

LaJeunesse added that the Special Olympics was made even more special thanks to the people of Antigonish, who were very friendly and supportive to the athletes.

“Golf for Kyle” helps local Special Olympian with his travel expenses

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

For the third straight year, a golf tournament has been held to assist a local Special Olympian with his travels.

“Golf for Kyle” was held June 23 at Sutton Creek Golf Club near McGregor with proceeds benefitting Kyle Spearing. Spearing, a 26-year-old Special Olympian, practices out of Sutton Creek under the guidance of coach Cory LaJeunesse.

“We’re heading to the Special Olympics Canada national games,” said LaJeunesse.

The golf tournament will be played July 29-Aug. 5 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

The “Golf for Kyle” tournament featured 58 golfers and 78 in total for dinner. Spearing said he felt good and was excited to see so many people come out to support him and his efforts.

“My uncle came from Pittsburgh,” said Spearing, noting that other friends and supporters also came out to support him.

Kyle Spearing (foreground) practices his putting prior to the golf tournament in his honour June 23. Watching him is his coach Cory LaJeunesse from Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Spearing said he played a round of golf that morning prior to the tournament. He has already seen tournament action this year, including a tournament near Whitby.

“We played a couple of courses there,” he said.

While a final total from the “Golf for Kyle” tournament was not available as of press time, LaJeunesse’s early estimate was that it would raise in the neighbourhood of $5-6,000. Money raised through the tournament is held in a trust, LaJeunesse added, and used to help send Spearing to the Special Olympics tournaments he travels to. Previous tournaments have been in Hilton Head and Seattle.

Depending on how he does at the national tournament, Spearing could qualify for the Special Olympics world tournament. LaJeunesse said that has always been the goal but noted there is a relatively quick turnaround as that tournament would be held in March.

Spearing emphasized how appreciative he was to the people that turned out last Saturday and others who have helped him.

“Thanks to the community for all of the support,” he said.

Miracle League golf tournament has no trouble attracting golfers

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Miracle League of Amherstburg held its annual golf tournament last Saturday afternoon with it attracting more golfers than ever before.

“We had more than a full house,” said Michele Vigneux, a board member and publicity director for Miracle League. “We’ve had to turn away more than a few teams. It’s a good problem to have.”

The total amount raised from the tournament won’t be known for a few weeks, according to Vigneux, but she said they were aiming to raise over $10,000. She said the proceeds from this year’s tournament will go towards the installation of a wheelchair accessible swing at the accessible playground next to the Miracle League diamond.

“We’re hoping, if we can raise enough money, that we can get it installed this fall,” she said. “That’s the goal.”

The swing, known as a Liberty Swing, costs $48,000 though the league has received $8,000 in cash donations and $17,500 in in-kind services. The remaining $22,500 comes from the Miracle League’s funding, which includes proceeds from such events as the golf tournament.

Special Olympian Kyle Spearing was part of Team Amherstburg for last Saturday’s Miracle League golf tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club. From left: Miracle League publicity director/board member Michele Vigneux, CAO John Miceli, Spearing, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Miracle League board president Chuck Bondy, Libro Centre operations director Sandy Lindsay.

Special Olympian Kyle Spearing was part of Team Amherstburg for last Saturday’s Miracle League golf tournament at Sutton Creek Golf Club. From left: Miracle League publicity director/board member Michele Vigneux, CAO John Miceli, Spearing, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Miracle League board president Chuck Bondy, Libro Centre operations director Sandy Lindsay.

Word has gotten around about Miracle League and the golf tournament. Vigneux said people know the money is going to a good cause and there were a lot of good prizes. Mike Bondy, a board member and volunteer with Miracle League, was able to secure a number of prizes including one week at a luxury home in Florida and trips to Cape Cod, Agawa Canyon, Washington and a condo in Shanty Creek.

Despite numerous donations throughout the year, the Miracle League doesn’t do any of its own fundraising except for the golf tournament.

“It’s our only fundraiser,” said Vigneux. “We hope to get the biggest bang for our buck as we can.”

Vigneux added it was the first year Mayor Aldo DiCarlo golfed in the tournament. He was joined by Special Olympian Kyle Spearing, CAO John Miceli and Libro Centre operations manager Sandy Lindsay.

“We’re really thankful to have everyone’s support,” Vigneux added. That includes new and returning golfers and sponsors.

“Everything we do is for the players and the league,” added Chuck Bondy, president of the Miracle League’s board of directors.

Bondy thanked all involved and stated “we couldn’t do this without all of the players and the volunteers are unbelievable.”

The fall season for the Miracle League of Amherstburg starts Sept. 9. For more information on Miracle League, visit www.amherstburgmiracle.com or call 519-919-4641.

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.