New team adds lightning to sports

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    By Roxanne Truesdell

    Blue Lightning made its debut appearance at the 2004 Utah Summer Special Olympics held at BYU last weekend.

    “We”ve got a brand new team this year based out of Utah County, Blue Lightning,” said Charlene Johnson, director of public relations for the Special Olympics Utah committee. “It is really exciting to see a new team with so many athletes on the roster.”

    Devin Dawson and Eric Johnson, athletes on the Blue Lightning team, had the honor of carrying the Special Olympics torch, the Flame of Hope, into Larry H. Miller Field and lighting the cauldron in the opening ceremonies on Thursday.

    Sean Sivertsen is coach to this 34-member team, ranging in age from 22 to 74. Twenty-eight team members actually competed at the Summer Games. Sivertsen put out a memo in January stating his intention to coach a new team, and by the kickoff meeting in March, they had the 34-member roster.

    “There is a huge love for sports with people of disabilities, I think for several reasons, especially for Special Olympics,” Sivertsen said.

    Ever since grade school, Sivertsen has loved working with people with disabilities.

    “I”ve helped out before, but this is the first year I”ve been nuts to bolts, start to finish, with the holistic approach of the Summer Special Olympics,” Sivertsen said.

    Sivertsen works for Danville Services, a local provider. Danville helps people either in a residential setting or a day-training service. A provider helps oversee people who are 22 or older because, at the age of 22, they stop being able to be a part of the public school system.

    A lot of the teams at the summer games, especially the Utah County teams, are sponsored and compete because they are in a school setting that allows them to participate through the school, said Sivertsen.

    “Whereas after that age of 22, when they can no longer be affiliated with the school system, there”s not a lot of opportunity for those folks to compete in a team-based atmosphere,” Sivertsen said.

    After seeing that need, Sivertsen realized that he had clients of his own and knew of other providers who had clients that didn”t have any team. So he came up with the Blue Lightning as a Utah County-based team for provider-aged adults.

    One athlete that they expected great things out of was Lenny Joans, one of the track and field stars. He got three gold and one silver at the area games, and competed likewise during the Summer Games. He competed in the 400-meter, 200-meter, 100-meter and the shot put.

    Blue Lightning”s biggest day of athletic competition was at Thursday”s developmental sports day, which is basically track and field events that have been redeveloped and redesigned for people with disabilities.

    This team has been practicing nearly every Saturday since the end of March to get ready for these games. The games gave the athletes the opportunity to be active and social, and the athletes gave it their all.

    “I”ve been going strong for three days,” Sivertsen said. “I had somebody ask a fellow member of my team, ”How does he get all that energy?” There”s just a level here of energy that is unparallel. You have athletes that are here to give it their all. They push and push because they want so badly to be so good.”

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