The triumphant trendsetters.
It was more than 10 years ago when Lincoln Comer — Director of Special Olympics and Community Recreation for Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) — began to try and get Flag Football sanctioned by the Special Olympics Ohio on behalf of Madison County Athletes.
With a strong tradition in various Special Olympics sports over the years, Comer and his Madison County Tigers formed the Mid-Ohio Flag Football League in 2006, adding a number of other counties to the quest for state-sanctioning as the years went on.
Recently, the trailblazers of the gridiron were awarded the honor of hosting the first-ever, state-sanctioned Special Olympics Ohio Flag Football Tournament. Featuring 14 teams from throughout the State of Ohio with some as far away as Hamilton, Toledo and Tuscarawas.
“It’s real clear that this needed to be a state event,” said Marty Allen, Program Director for Ohio Special Olympics. “Lincoln has a real good system here so it was pretty easy to make it a State event.”
The state utilized the rules that Comer formulated a decade ago, so it was more than fitting that Madison County was chosen to host the event. Ohio Special Olympics even supplied the referees — all certified. They varied in experience including current high school and college referees, as well as an official retired from the National Football League.
“Due to the league’s success and longevity, the state officials determined Flag Football was worth a try,” Comer said. “I am very proud to say they weren’t disappointed.”
Several hundred athletes and other visitors ascended upon the campuses of MCBDD and Fairhaven School in London. Round-robin and elimination tournaments afforded each of the teams to play multiple games during the close-to-nine-hour event.
When the dust settled, the Madison County Tigers were one of four champions crowned on the day, as they finished first in the Division II Adult bracket. They defeated Miami County for the title. Gold medal winners in the three other divisions were Franklin Goodwill, Highland County and Lucas County.
“It was an honor to host so many terrific Special Olympics athletes and their families from throughout the state of Ohio,” said MCBDD Superintendent Susan Thompson. “We are particularly proud of our Madison County Tigers who served as very gracious hosts.”
Comer echoed those sentiments, extending it to those who have seen this dream from 2006 become a reality.
“I would like to thank the many athletes, coaches and volunteers who participated in our league over the years,” Comer said. “It is because of their dedication and love for the game that Ohio Special Olympics now offers the new sanctioned sport of Flag Football.”
For more information about Special Olympics, contact Comer at 740-852-7052.