The Owensboro Bulls basketball team has been selected to represent the state as Team Kentucky at the 2018 USA Games. The Bulls won the gold medal in their division of the 2017 State Basketball Tournament in March.
|Head Coach Jeff Johnson, of Owensboro, has a long history of success coaching Special Olympics basketball at the state and USA Games level. Johnson coached the first Team Kentucky basketball team at the 2006 USA Games in Ames, Iowa. That team posted a 4-1 record and finished with a silver medal. He served as an assistant at the 2010 USA Games, helping the women’s team that had won gold at the 2007 World Summer Games claim another gold medal in Lincoln, Neb. Johnson’s teams have won several state championships as well and are always among the most well-prepared teams at state events. Johnson, who was named the Special Olympics Kentucky Coach of the Year for 2015, has coached Special Olympics athletes for 24 years, coaching flag football, track and softball in addition to basketball.
Johnson is retired from the Owensboro School District, where he also was the head football coach for Owensboro Middle School.
|Assistant Coach Tim Konken, of Owensboro, has been a Special Olympics coach for five years. He also coaches softball and track and field in the program.
He works at US Bank.
|Walt Drake, of Owensboro, has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 15 years, and has been a part of the basketball program the entire time. He is one of two members of this year’s team who was a part of the silver-medal winning team at the 2006 USA Games. In addition to basketball, Drake, 34, competes in track and field, softball and bowling.
|Dakota Duvall, of Owensboro, has been involved in Special Olympics for five years, and has always participated in basketball. He has also played Special Olympics softball. This is his first trip to the USA Games.
|Jennifer Hamilton, of Owensboro, was a member of both the team that won the gold medal at the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, China, and the 2010 USA Games gold medal team. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 20 years and has played basketball for that long. Hamilton, 37, competes in softball, track and field and bowling in addition to basketball.
|Alexander Konken, of Owensboro, has competed in Special Olympics for more than a decade and has played basketball for eight years. He will be making his first trip to the USA Games. Konken, 25, also competes in track and field, powerlifting and softball.
He works at Hampton Inn.
|Zach Lindsey, of Whitesville, has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 10 years, competing in bowling, softball and track and field in addition to basketball. This will be the first time he has competed at the USA or World Games level.
Lindsey, 22, works at IGA in Whitesville.
|Chad McCarty, of Philpot, joins Drake as the other player on this year’s team who was part of the silver medal-winning team at the 2006 Games. McCarty was an outstanding inside player for that squad. He has been involved in Special Olympics for 15 years, and has played basketball since joining. In addition to basketball, he has competed in softball, track and field and golf.
McCarty, 30, works at U-Bounce.
|Zachary Payne, of Utica, has been competing in Special Olympics for six years and playing basketball since 2012. This will be his first competition above the state level. One of the best athletes on the team, Payne competes in the pentathlon at the State Summer Games, completing five grueling events on the Saturday of the Games. Payne, 21, also competes in bowling and softball.
|Ray Smith, of Utica, is in his 11th year as a Special Olympics athlete. He has played basketball for five of those. He also competes in track and field and powerlifting in the program. Smith, 25, is making his first trip to the USA Games.
|Bryan Stone, of Owensboro, has been a Special Olympics athlete for 24 years and has played basketball for four. Stone, 40, also competes in track and field, bowling and softball. This will be his first USA Games experience.
He works at Lowe’s.
|James Willoughby, of Fordsville, will also be making his first USA Games appearance. At 55, he is the oldest member of the Team Kentucky delegation. He has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than 20 years and has played basketball for 8. He also competes in track and field, softball and bowling.