Nearly 20 local athletes will travel to New Jersey later this week to compete in national Special Olympics events.
The Area 11 Special Olympics delegation includes the Rock Hill Rage soccer team, a co-ed squad that will play in the unified soccer division. About half of the team is made up of athletes with disabilities.
For some athletes, this year’s national competition isn’t their first or even the largest event they’ve been to.
Scott Rohrer, 24, of York is making his second trip to the national games. He holds two world records in Special Olympics golf – including one he set on his first day in the competition. This week, he says he’s aiming to beat his own score of 71.
Rohrer is the only golfer to have hit under par in any Special Olympics event.
His talent will give him the chance to play in an upcoming world Special Olympics tournament in Denmark. And after the national competition next week in New Jersey, Rohrer is scheduled to visit and have dinner with pro golfer Jordan Spieth at the Quicken Loans National PGA tournament in Bethesda, Md.
His dad, 51-year-old Jeff Rohrer, also will attend as the South Carolina statewide Special Olympics golfing coach. His mom, Elizabeth, will help as his caddy.
Scott Rohrer started playing golf around age 7, he said, when his dad introduced him to the sport. Now, he says, they’re “rivals” on the course and like to play together at the River Hills Country Club in Lake Wylie.
When his son was diagnosed with autism at a young age, Jeff Rohrer says he followed some advice that Scott would “excel if he did something on an individual basis rather than a team-oriented sport.”
So he “gave him a club, and the rest is history,” Jeff Rohrer said.
The USA Special Olympics will be held June 14-21 and feature 16 different sports. Venues include Princeton University and sports facilities around Mercer County, N.J.
In total, South Carolina will have a 170-member Special Olympics delegation, including coaches, at the national games.
The local Special Olympics organization, Area 11, covers York, Chester and Lancaster counties. The local athletes will compete in bowling, swimming, golfing and soccer.