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Special Olympian rewarded for basketball skills

Westgate student earlier this year was named the School Athlete of the Year by Special Olympics Ontario.
Westgate Collegiate student Nolan Blundon takes a shot on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022 at Lakehead University. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY — Nolan Blundon loves the Toronto Raptors.

In fact, he loves basketball in general, whether watching Pascal Siakam and company on television or in the stands, or lacing up his sneakers and hitting the court himself for a little hoops action of his own.

Blessed with a shot that even Steph Curry might salute, the Westgate Collegiate Vocational Institute student was recently honoured as the School Athlete of the Year by Special Olympics Ontario, a nod to his abilities on and off the court.

“I play basketball, floor hockey, bowling, golf, track and field,” Nolan said.

“This award makes me full of joy and excitement. I’m just happy that I won it.”

The teen said he’s loved sports since he was a kid, adding that taking part in the various activities he does keeps him active and in good health.

“And I get to learn skills too,” he said. “I learned shooting and passing and dribbling and stuff.”

Kyllie Daniar, a teacher and coach at Westgate, said Nolan was nominated by Special Olympics Ontario for basketball player of the year, which she said in large part was a result of the efforts on the ground of the local Special Olympics organization.

Having a robust program benefits everyone who participates, from the athletes to the volunteers.

“Just the opportunity for fair play and the opportunity to have the ability to come together with students and athletes of like ability and lets you get out on the court or the field or the rink — whatever it is they’re participating in — and come together as a team and work on the dedication of work ethic and determination, but ultimately just having fun,” Daniar said.

Nolan, who says former Raptor Kawhi Leonard is his favourite NBA player, has a knack for basketball, which is great too, she added.

“Nolan is not only a phenomenal athlete, but a phenomenal kid. He works very hard, not just on his shot, but he’s determined. He wants to talk basketball all the time. He wants to play basketball all the time and it just goes to show that with a little hard work and dedication, he can play with not only traditional athletes in the Special Olympics program, but also some of our unified players,” Daniar said.

Nolan won the award in October.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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