Fall Games continued with the State Golf Tournament at Smyrna Golf Course on September 18, 2023. Athletes and Unified Partners competed in either nine or eighteen-hole competitions against other athletes from across the state. Unified Partners Emily Cage and Dr. Ted Peetz shared their story and experiences with golf throughout the last eight years of their friendship.
Cage, from Sumner County, has competed as an athlete with Special Olympics Tennessee for 20 years, participating in golf, tennis, speed skating, basketball, bowling, bocce and track & field. Golf has easily become her favorite through all of the opportunities and experiences she has gained. Her first golfing experience comes from volunteering at the Don Ellis Celebrity Golf Tournament when she was just four years old.
“I like golf because I get to go to different golf courses, meet new people and spend time with Ted, my coach and partner,” said Cage.
Cage also finds value in being a part of Special Olympics Tennessee. She mentioned that she has also had the opportunity to “play sports that [she] wouldn’t get to do.” She has also made a lifelong friend and mentor who has become a piece of her family through the organization.
“They’ve got a special friendship,” said Terri Cage, Emily’s mother. “He (Peetz) has a really great heart for this program and has become like family to us.”
Cage has played golf alongside Dr. Ted Peetz for many years. The pair met in 2015 at a fundraising event, where they instantly formed a connection. They bonded over the sport and ultimately decided that they needed to become golf partners. Peetz stated that Emily was the initiating reason that he became involved with Special Olympics Tennessee and could not imagine his life without her
“Anyone who has ever been around Special Olympics knows it is an incredible organization that can help transform lives,” said Peetz. “The wonderful thing that I now realize is that it transformed my life as well. I can’t imagine not being a Unified Partner with Emily!”
Peetz, a Sport Administration professor at Belmont University, is passionate about his role as a Unified golf partner with Special Olympics Tennessee. Without the opportunity to serve as a Unified partner and his involvement with Special Olympics Tennessee, he may have never gained his good friend, Emily.
“She is a wonderful person to be around and her positive attitude is contagious,” said Peetz. “She has had a tremendous impact on my life and how I approach all of my relationships.”
Peetz has not only seen how Cage’s golf game has improved over the last eight years of being her Unified Partner but how her personality has also transformed. He mentioned her constant support on and off the golf course and how she’s always there for him, no matter the circumstance.
“In a golf partner, you want someone who will support you and cheer you on. If I hit a bad shot and hang my head, Emily knows exactly the right amount of support to give,” said Peetz. “Sometimes she’ll clap and she says ‘we got this’ other times it’s a gentle pat on the back. Whatever it is, it is always 100% the perfect dose - it’s astonishing.”
At the State Golf Tournament, the pair placed third in the level two Unified division, playing nine holes at Smyrna Golf Course. They left the course beaming with joy to have spent the day together and golfed a great round.
Overall, Cage and Peetz have created a bond like no other through the game of golf and Special Olympics Tennessee. It is obvious to see how great of a team they make, and we wish them luck for the future ahead!
To learn more about Unified Sports and becoming a Unified Partner, click here.