Kaiser Permanente member Grant Brickbealer and Team Washington had an amazing winning streak going on the basketball court throughout the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. After dominating their first 4 events, their team was re-evaluated and bumped up from Unified Division 2 finals to Unified Division 1 finals — an impressive recognition of their talent and teamwork.
That leap, and the speed-demon Florida team they played in the medal round, finally got the better of them and landed them silver medals, rather than gold. But their coach had nothing but praise for the athletes and the team. “I don’t want to see anybody hanging their head,” he said. “You’re all really tired, but you played and you kept going. In all my 35 years of coaching basketball, working with this team is by far the best experience I’ve ever had. You played great and you gave it your all. I couldn’t be prouder of you.”
While Grant was disappointed not to be heading home with gold, he says the Games have been a wonderful experience. “I don’t know anyone who has gotten to play basketball in the Alaska Airlines Arena, and not many people get the opportunities I’ve had this week. The Games are amazing, and one of my favorite parts was the Opening Ceremony. Wow, that was awesome! When Team Washington walked in, it felt like I was at a Husky game. You know how loud that stadium gets? There was lots of love in that stadium.”