Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility

Upper East's Unified Pair Enjoys Golf at East TN Regional

Chris Sontag and Richard Heath claim bronze

Unified Sports signals the next generation of Special Olympics and how more members of the community can truly connect with athletes. During the East Tennessee Regional Golf Tournament at Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Upper East Region Area Director Chris Sontag took on the role of Unified Partner in playing 18 holes with athlete Richard Heath.

Heath has been playing golf since he was 12 years old and he loves the game. He enjoys hitting the ball and enjoying a beautiful day on the course. When he comes to a competition, it’s not just about the game for Heath. He loves seeing other athletes at the event.

“It’s good to see all of my fellow athletes,” said Heath. “I know they’re doing their best at golf.”

Aside from seeing other athletes, Heath enjoys spending time with Sontag. Heath mentioned that Sontag is nice and really motivates him to do well on the course. Heath made sure to clarify that Sontag did not pay him to say that.

The partners competed in Level 3 Unified 18-hole and were paired with another pair competing at the same level: Matthew Drumright and his uncle, Richard Drumright. Sontag and Heath finished with a bronze medal win while the Drumrights claimed gold. Throughout the event, both pairs competed and took part in building tremendous camaraderie. It’s what Special Olympics is all about.

“Special Olympics people are a special breed, and they get it,” said Sontag. “They get what life is all about. The athlete oath of ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,’ always comes to the forefront when you’re out there. Our athletes know how to compete.” 

Sontag is also the Area Director for the Upper East Region, which includes Johnson City, Elizabethton, Mountain City, Erwin and Jonesborough. The area is experiencing growth in activity thanks to his leadership and the work of tremendous volunteers in the area. Sontag stays motivated to serve his community because of what he sees from athletes at every event.

“I love it because I like to see the expression on their faces,” said Sontag. “They get a chance to participate and feel like everyone else. They’re excited to compete.”

With the growth of Unified Champion Schools, there is more interest in becoming a Unified Partner with Special Olympics athletes. Or, maybe someone is unsure if it’s for them. Sontag has some quick advice.

“Volunteer at an event and get to know our athletes,” said Sontag. “Once you do that, you’re hooked.”

Special Olympics Tennessee is always looking for new additions to work with our athletes. Whether it’s as a volunteer, a Unified Partner or a leader, there’s something for you to be involved in at Special Olympics.

To learn more about Unified Sports, click here.

EditedSpecial Olympics Bear Trace 2023-030 copy.jpg
Sontag and Heath medal at East TN Golf Regional

Recent News & Stories

Davis and Detroit Enjoy Unified Track Partnership

“We love each other...We treat everybody the same.”
1 Min Read

Dream Team's Franz Aspires to be Special Olympics Coach

Franz has competed at the state and national level
1 Min Read

Katselis Brothers Enjoy Experience on Nashville SC Unified Team

Moose and Aristo compete together for first time since childhood recreation leagues
1 Min Read