The Union Democrat Sports Department

The Special Olympics Northern California of Tuolumne County is calling all member athletes to participate in softball and golf this summer.

Softball beginsJuly 9, and practices are held at Standard Park in Sonora everyTuesdayandThursday from 3:00 to 5 p.m.

No experience is needed, but players are asked to bring a softball mitt and water bottle.

"Last year, we had around 30 athletes," Dave DeCheney, Tuolumne County Special Olympics area director, said. "It was a big turnout."

Participants will work on skills including throwing and catching, DeCheney said.

This year, the Special Olympians will be traveling south to compete in regionals at the end of the season.

"We are scheduled for a regional competition which is going to be heldAugust 18in Fresno," DeCheney said.

Golf tees off everyFridayafternoon at4:00 p.m.and runs fromJuly 9 through September 13at Phoenix Lake Golf Course in Sonora.

Athletes are asked to check in at the driving range, and equipment will be provided.

Basic fundamentals and techniques will be taught weekly at practice.

"We work on skills such as chipping the ball, putting and hitting off the tee," DeCheney said. "Teaching them the skills, basically."

There is no cost to participate.

"Everything is done through donations, fundraisers and things like that," DeCheney said. "There is never a fee charge for anything. Everything is free for our athletes."

Athletes wanting to sign up can contact DeCheney at 588-9078, softball coaches Ben and Audrey Dorsett at 533-1457 and golf coach Bev Olson at 586-6542, or can fill out an application online

Lack of coaches

DeCheney said he is also looking for dedicated coaches willing to volunteer their time.

"Our biggest problem right now is coaches," he said. "We can really use some coaches. Coaches can always volunteer by filling out an application."

Coaches can sign up online