As gloomy skies threaten rain, Myles Kitson bounds around his backyard basketball hoop. The 18-year-old makes leaps and layups and three-pointers – with the occasional nothing-but-net from behind the backboard, just for fun. Kitson’s occasional “drained it” punctuates the quiet mid-morning shootout in Oak Bay.
“He’s at Oak Bay pool every weekend playing hoops,” said mom Debbie Seto-Kitson. “He’ll spend a couple hours there just shooting.”
Those well-honed skills, reintroduced to the team aspect this fall, earned Kitson, who has Down syndrome, a spot with the Special Olympics BC Zone 6 basketball team at the BC Winter Games this month in Penticton.
“He used to play for the school teams until they got too big and too fast,” said Seto-Kitson. He played first at St. Patrick’s then at St. Andrews but in recent years stuck to the solo play at Oak Bay Rec and the backyard. In September she brought the team aspect back to the solo shootouts he’s well known for at home and at Oak Bay Rec.
“I thought to myself, he’s missing that part of the game, the running and defence,” Seto-Kitson said.
So she signed him on at the Victoria Special Olympics BC basketball program that practices at Arbutus Middle School in Saanich. About 25 athletes hit the hardwood each week, a big leap in the program from last year’s 14, under the tutelage of coach Lisa Green and her volunteer coaches, athletes from basketball programs in area high schools, UVic and Camousun.
“I’m just so incredibly amazed by the calibre of coaching,” said Seto-Kitson. “She has a small army of volunteers. There are about seven or eight assistant coaches at any given time.”
The BC Winter Games, held this year in Penticton Feb. 25 to 28, will feature Special Olympics BC basketball for the second time. The BC Games are distinct from Special Olympics BC Games, hosted by SOBC solely for SOBC athletes. SOBC athletes have been showcasing their skills in the standard BC Games for 12 years, competing in Special Olympics divisions.
Prior to 2014, SOBC athletes at BC Games competed in athletics and swimming. Their expansion into BC Winter Games continues in 2016 with the addition of figure skating.
Three members of the Victoria Special Olympics BC team were selected for the BC Winter Games team that plays in Pentiction.
“She picked Myles for his skills and sportsmanship,” Seto-Kitson said.
A huge Canucks fan, Kitson also plays ice hockey with an adaptive team. He also enjoys hard-earned-cash from his part-time work at Ottavio.
A young man of few words, “it’s fun,” he says of basketball in general and holds out high hopes for the food at the BC Winter Games.