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Memphis Gladiators Battle Through Rain to Take Gold at State Flag

Team emphasizes the power of communication, teamwork and joy.

The Greater Memphis flag football team traveled over three hours to compete at the State Flag Football Tournament as a part of 2023 Fall Games in September. The team arrived the day before to allow them to rest and prepare for a big day of competition ahead.

The day started with rain and downpours, but the competition continued, and the team played three games in one day.

“It was crazy and it was raining and wet, it was a lot," said Kyler Bilbrey.

Through the rain and the challenges, they played their hardest and won their first two games. They all agreed the second game was much harder than the first but that made them “play harder the second game."

“When I scored all I could do was scream," said Jonathan Matthews.

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Reggie Wilson of Special Olympics Greater Memphis

With all this enthusiasm and celebration, Tony Payne, who also scored, said all he could think about as he was running to catch an interception was, “I hope I'm not gonna drop another pass." He didn't, and he made the big play.

All these guys on the team work and play their hardest giving 100% effort all the time. Traveling to play with others and have fun while playing shows what a good team is like.

Special Olympics athletes are incredibly supportive of each other. The team erupted with joy and love knowing they get to share their wisdom and knowledge.

“It doesn't matter about winning or losing a game, it's about having fun," said Cortney Coats. "Never give up."

Kyler Bilbrey was given this advice from his coaches and handed it off to others saying, “Communication is key anywhere whether you are in a game or not."

Watching these guys run and play a sport they all love and succeed physically while doing so brings a warm heart to anyone around. The smiles of each player and coach are something everyone should have.

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