Members of the Fighting Peacocks, much like their beloved mascot the Peacock, are loud, proud and ready to take on the world
On Saturday, June 2, the team - comprised of men from throughout Delaware County - showcased its members during a series of exhibition games against both a Jay and Grove community team at the Jay Bulldog Baseball field.
It was all part of an effort designed to raise funds for an upcoming trip to the USA Games in Seattle, Washington.
The 14-member team, sponsored by the Delaware County Friendship Home, will join other Special Olympians from across the state as part of the Oklahoma Delegation.
The games officially begin on Sunday, July 1, with an opening ceremony. The Fighting Peacocks are set to play ball on Monday, July 2, Tuesday, July 3 and Thursday, July 5.
Alicia Jory, one of the team's captains, said a portion of the USA games are scheduled to air on ESPN.
A total of 49 athletes, coaches and volunteers, will travel with the Oklahoma delegation. Other members will take part in sports such as power lifting, track and field, bowling, golf and swimming.
Jory said the Fighting Peacocks were selected to take part in the games based upon the team's competition level and record.
The team has consistently been the state champion during the summer Special Olympic games since 2011.
They have also played, on a national level, winning honors in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Jory said each player needs to raise at least $1,250 per person, before the team leaves on June 30.
While most of the monies have come in, she estimates the team needs at least a combined $3,000 to fully fund the trip.
"This is such an honor," Jory said. "It's something we have wanted to do for years - to be recognized for their hard work and dedication."
In addition to Fourth of July festivities, the team plans to sightsee on their day off, taking in at least the Space Needle.
"We like to try to do something while we are out and about," Jory said. "We like to at least give one day of sightseeing, so they can see different parts of the country.
More about the Fighting Peacocks
The team is comprised of a diverse group of players, and community volunteer supporters.
The supporters, Jory said, and the players begin training in January and continues through June.
Practices involve working on fundamentals and other skills needed to keep the team at the Master Level 3, the highest level of competition.
While the Fighting Peacocks are an all male team, the DCFH has two co-ed teams: a beginner-level T-Ball team and an intermediate level softball team.
Brad Tanner, is a member of the Fighting Peacocks. The 2008 graduate of Jay High School said he likes being part of the tradition, which comes with being a "peacock."
Tanner typically plays catcher on the team.
"I like going to represent our hometown to the world," Tanner said, adding he's learned a lot about both the game and life, from working with the team's community partners.
Rob Cearley is one of the team's long-time community member. He's been volunteering at the DCFH for 30 years, and been a partner since the team began.
He loves how the game lets players, who may have never played softball or baseball, grow in their skills - from the lowest to the highest level.
"This teaches teamwork, athleticism and about being a family," Cearley said. "Because that's what we are, we're together all of the time. One person isn't any better than the rest."
Cearley said the Special Olympics, in general, help teach the athletes about competing at every level be it beginner or master.
He admits his favorite team to watch is the T-Ball team.
"It's the lowest level of competition, but they bust their butts harder than anybody," Cearley said. "They have a blast playing."
Cearley said those players have a spirit of "knock down, drag out competition," adding the team would practice five days a week if allowed.
For more information about the Fighting Peacocks, or the other softball teams available through the Delaware County Friendship Home, or to help with the team's fundraising efforts, persons interested may call 918-253-6032, mail a check to P.O. Box 720, Jay, OK 74346 or come by the office at 1111 West Cherokee Street in Jay.
Did You Know?
The Fighting Peacocks were originally named the Delaware County Friendship Home softball team.
In 2012, following the death of Travis Ellis - a long-time friend to many on the team - team members decided to honor Ellis by renaming the group after his favorite cheer at games "You Are A Peacock."
Organizers said Ellis loved the game of softball and had a heart the size of the moon. He also had a contagious smile.
Just The Facts
The Fighting Peacocks have won numerous awards since 2011.
They have been the running state winners, during the summer Special Olympics games in Stillwater, from 2011 to 2018.
In 2012 they took third place during a national competition.
In 2014 they were the national runners-up.
In 2016 they were the national champions.
This is the first time, in 2018, they have been invited to participate as part of the Oklahoma delegation during the USA games.
Did You Know?
This year, during the summer games for the Special Olympics in Stillwater, Alicia Jory, coach of the Fighting Peacocks, was named "coach of the year."
A Special Olympic coach since 1999, Jory said she loves watching players active success through the Delaware County Friendship Home teams.
"We play and are around each other so much, it's like family," Jory said.
Jory got started working with the DCFH years ago, when her mother opened the agency.
"I was always part of the Special Olympics," I always wanted to be a coach. I had a chance to be the head [softball] coach and I took it and ran with it.
"It's an amazing feeling when you [help players] learn something new."