Upcoming State Tournament for Special Olympics

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COLUMBIA - The Sluggers, a central Missouri Special Olympics softball team, held its last practice Monday before heading to the state tournament.

The tournament in Cape Girardeau starts Friday, October 11, and will end Sunday the 13th. The featured sports in the tournament are bocce, flag football, golf, soccer, softball, and tennis.

Softball games will begin Saturday, weather permitting.

The Sluggers missed one tournament earlier this season due to weather, but their coach is excited for the opportunity to end the season against the other teams from the state.

"You want to help them have fun, you want to help them experience what a team is like, and that's what we do," Sluggers coach John Nemec said. "We take them where they start, and we make them a little better, help them have fun, and so the tournament this weekend is just an end of the season culmination."

One thing those involved with Special Olympics are looking forward to is the construction of a new facility along Highway 63.

Currently, a sign sits along an exit and reads "Future Home of Special Olympics Training for Life Campus."

Diane Brimer, the Central Area program director for Special Olympics, says the organization received a $1 million donation from Centene Corporation in St. Louis.

The new facility will sit on 11 acres of land. Brimer said don't expect to see anything there until at least 2014.

"We are very excited to get that facility built," a recreation specialist for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department said. "For our program, it would reduce logistics."

"It's just going to allow the kids to get in better shape, be better athletes, and get more out of community," Nemec said.

The Central Area plans to bring four softball teams, along with golfers and bocce athletes to the state tournament.

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