Clinton County volleyball team back from Abu Dhabi with gold medals

LOCK HAVEN — Just a few short days ago, the coaches and players of the Clinton County Special Olympics volleyball team were in Abu Dhabi, an island in the Persian Gulf that serves as the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

They weren’t there for a vacation, they had their eyes on the world championship.

After bringing home the Gold Medal in Division I competition at Villanova University back in October of last year, the Clinton County Hawks qualified to represent Team USA in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.

They defeated the host nation in the finals of the World Games, the first set 25 to 7 and the second set 25 to 18, proving only the gold medals were enough for our hometown athletes.

Once they had qualified for the World Games, the team was honored with a banquet dinner at the Red Eye Center, at 516 Canal St, Lock Haven.

This time, returning from Abu Dhabi with the gold medals in hand, the Hawks received a true hero’s welcome.

A convoy of motorcycles, fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency response vehicles escorted the world champions as they took a “victory parade” through Clinton County. They started in Avis, before making their way through downtown Lock Haven, then on to Hogan Boulevard before

allowing for a meet and greet in the parking lot outside Walmart and Ruby Tuesday in Mill Hall.

Reese’s Print Shop, 7 E. Main St., Lock Haven, offered free posters of the Clinton County Special Olympics team, urging fans and supporters to hold the signs high as the convoy passed through.

“Their hopes were high and they were determined. They are so proud of what they have done. This is a great accomplishment and they certainly represented our town, county, state and the USA well,” Clinton County Special Olympics Manager Larry Rupert said. “I knew they could do it.”

Several excited and proud local residents came out to take part in the welcome home celebration, to congratulate the team, and see the gold medals for themselves.

The team thanked everybody for their support, saying it helped provide motivation to achieve their victory.

Leaving from the Little League Headquarters in Williamsport on March 6, the team bussed to Newark, N.J., to meet up with the rest of Team USA, which includes athletes from all over the United States. They were then bussed to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., for a charter flight non-stop to Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways.

As part of the event, the Clinton County team faced competition from countries such as India, South Korea, Jamaica and more.

The athletes who make up the Clinton County Volleyball Team are Holdan Marr, Christopher Smith, Robert Borner Jr., Ronald Smith, Conner Borner, Lee Powers, Jordan Litz, Elainie Litz, and Kathy Marr.

Their coaches are Brad Marr, Charlie Litz, and Sarah Fromknecht.

Back in October, a Proclamation of Excellence was presented to the Hawks by county commissioner Jeff Snyder.

“It is with great pleasure and community pride, and on behalf of the citizens of Clinton County, that we do hereby present this Proclamation of Excellence to the volleyball team for their hard work and outstanding achievements this year and for receiving this high honor. Thank you for proudly representing your community,” Snyder said.

More recently, Snyder said that another resolution will be prepared to honor them in their return.

“I saw how excited they were to go, and now I am anxious to see how excited they are to come back as gold medalists,” he said.