LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park Campus was full of athletes showing off their abilities and sportsmanship on Saturday.
It was the annual Mississippi Coast area games for the Special Olympics. This was the first year for the event to be held on the beachfront campus.
It was a show of strength, endurance and most importantly, it was without a doubt a great time.
"I love Special Olympics. I'm doing my best," said Rita Bond, athlete.
Four counties, four sporting events and almost 90 athletes using their skill and strategy to strive for the state games in October.
Most of the athletes had a solid plan to get the job done.
"Take my time, and do everything that I can," said Leanne Bertucci, athlete.
The athletes competed in softball, soccer, horseshoes and croquet. Many trusted their natural instincts.
Athlete Brenda Hiles doesn't get many chances to play her favorite sport outside of these games. "I think I did pretty good," said Hiles.
Hiles strategy was to focus, and then pack a punch.
"I just take the thing, and put it the way you're supposed to put it, and hit it hard," Hiles said.
With her friend Tabitha Turnage and volunteer Meaghan Knight to cheer her on, Hiles felt confident that she would do well.
Knight heard about the opportunity to get involved at her church and knew she wanted to do it. "I immediately raised my hand," said Knight.
More than helping athletes succeed at their sport, Knight says she was there for a deeper reason.
"Just being a friend to other people," said Knight.
That's the whole reason the event coordinator Katherine Clough continues to organize the games year after year. She said the love and friendship that's shown here is what she strives for with the games.
"It's perfect. It's something that you just do," Clough said.
The state round for the fall games in the Special Olympics will be at Camp Shelby in October.