Special Olympians Excited About Weekend's Games

Hard Rocker, 19, Also Hard Worker

April 19, 1991|By William C. Ward | William C. Ward,Staff Writer

What does a 19-year old Special Olympian like to do after a hard dayof practice?

"Eat and listen to music," says Kathy West, mother of one such athlete, Robert West.

Rolling her eyes, she listed Robert West's favorite heavy metal bands: Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi -- but there was no mistaking the maternal pride in her voice as she discussed her son's athletic prowess and accomplishments in the Special Olympics.

"At one soccer competition in Western Maryland at (Mount) St. Mary's, the teamhe was on beat the team that was going to the national or international games," she said.

The younger West, who will be participating in track and field events at the Anne Arundel County spring Special Olympics on Sunday, has been involved in the competitions as far back as he can remember.

"He's been doing (Special Olympics) since day one," says his mother, a lifelong Linthicum resident who works as a dispatcher at Eastern Petroleum in Annapolis.

The games, for mentally and physically disabled individuals, are scheduled this weekend atthe U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The games are sponsored by the Annapolis Jaycees.

If medals were awarded for enthusiasm, West would win hands down. Although his mother jokes that his favorite school subject is lunch, West says that gym is the class he looks forward to most.

There doesn't seem to be a sports event West hasn't tried or doesn't like.

"I like to play soccer, hockey and basketball," he said, listing some of the events he's participated in. The games are central to West's life and provide him with a chance to do things with his friends, who also compete.

After living with his grandparents in Texas, the athlete came to live with his mother last May, enrolling at the Ruth P. Eason School, a special education center in Old Mill. He brought with him the numerous medals he's earned in athleticevents in Texas.

Two days a week, West works at the Marriott Hotel in Linthicum and spends three other days working at the Buggy Bath,a car wash in Millersville.

Once a week on Mondays, West practices and hones his athletic skills with Coach Bruce Sponsler at the Eason School. The tall sandy-blond West is built like a linebacker and has an abundance of energy.

"He's a big guy. I look for him to be strong in the softball throw and the 50-yard --," Sponsler says. "He's been very active in our team competition."

West recently found hisniche in track and field, after competing for several years in swimming. His mother pressured him to concentrate on the relay, 50-yard --and the other land-based events he says he enjoys more.

"I told him, it's either swimming or track and field, not both," said Kathy West wearily, relating the trials and tribulations of trying to keep upwith an energetic 19-year-old.

Wearing the medals he has earned in the last few months in local and state competitions, West tosses a softball in the air, explaining each medal: There are the two gold ones he earned for soccer, the silver one for basketball and the bronzehe won in field hockey.

When competing, West says he's never nervous: "I just do my exercises and warm up." And he says he never gets too tired to practice, despite his two jobs.

Is he excited about this weekend's games?

"Yeah, you got that right, that's exactly right."

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