A winning team

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2010

George and Harris Fischer have played better rounds of golf before, but it’s safe to say upon their return from Lincoln, Neb. and the 2010 Special Olympics National Games that they haven’t had many better experiences together.

The father-son golf team placed fifth overall and with a silver medal in the second division of the alternating shot competition last week in Lincoln.

The Fischers shot nine-hole rounds of 49, 48 and 48 to be among the top teams out of the 27 teams playing at Mahoney Golf Club.

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Harris, a 17-year-old student at Nansemond River, and his dad were on their second trip to the National Games.

“Last year, we had a really low round. This year, we played consistently, but we really never had that really good round,” George said.

The golf was important and competitive, but it was by no means the whole reason for being a part of the Games.

On the course, the Fischers were paired with a twosome, another father-son team, from Missouri one day, a team from Wyoming one day and a team from Nebraska one day.

The Fischers were part of a 48-member delegation from Virginia. The Virginia team flew out of Richmond together.

“Every time on an airplane, the pilot recognized the Special Olympic athletes,” George said. “Every captain with American Airlines recognized us as Olympians.”

“And another thing that was neat was for some of the athletes, it was their first time flying. You could feel their excitement, especially on the flight out of Richmond to Dallas, many of them burst out in applause and screams, a lot like a roller coaster. It really was great,” George said.

Each state’s delegation stayed basically together in dorms at the University of Nebraska. Each morning, the bus for the golf course, about 10 miles from the university, left at 6:15 a.m.

“We were up at 5 a.m. every morning,” George said.

“Yeah, I was tired,” Harris said. Apparently it really wasn’t so difficult to get ready for the day and the course though.

“But they had the best breakfast on the planet. Eggs and bacon and the turkey burgers were the best, they were amazing,” Harris said.

Each round ended early in the morning or early afternoon, giving the Fischers time to see a lot of the other sports.

Harris was recruited to join in a beach volleyball game. Then the other side needed another player, so George, while not as eager, joined that team.

After a marathon, 90-minute match, “I couldn’t walk the next day. I had to hit a lot of balls on the range to warm up,” George said.

Harris turned in the shot of the week. On the par-five seventh hole, George led off and put a drive into the rough.

From 175 yards away, George suggested Harris hit an iron. An iron would make it through the rough easier, but wouldn’t reach the green.

“Then Harris said, ‘what is it going to take to hit the green?’ So I said a five-wood.” George said. With the five-wood, Harris hit the shot on the green about 35 feet from the hole.

A group of spectators and players was on the next tee, saw Harris’s shot, and gave him a big round of applause and congrats.

About 8,000 volunteers made the Games possible and run smoothly.

“Everyone there, they are just genuinely nice people,” George said. Most of the volunteers were from Lincoln or nearby.

Harris is looking forward to trying out for Nansemond River’s varsity team in early August.

The local Special Olympics golf season is just getting started. George coaches golf to a team of athletes each week at Sleepy Hole Golf Course. The Fischers are looking ahead to the State Games in Richmond in October and the Fall Championships in Virginia Beach in November.