Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Kirby Oertling has been the KPLC 7 Sports Person of the Week previously due to his impressive accomplishments with the Special Olympics, but recently he accomplished yet another impressive feat, as he was named the Louisiana Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year.
The award means a lot to Oertling as it shows just how hard he has worked to reach this point, but he also acknowledges that he couldn’t do it without the support system that surrounds him.
“It means a lot, coming from Lake Charles, being born and raised here, grinding through the summer workouts when it’s really hot, having my dad as my coach, and everyone else in my family supporting me. At state I didn’t know what was going on, we were sitting around, and I was shocked I got the Male Athlete of the Year Award, and I deserve it, but there are other people who deserve it too. At the end of the day, we’re all working really hard to represent Special Olympics and our journey.”
Even though Oertling has won a plethora of medals during his time with the Special Olympics, the announcement that he was named the Male Athlete of the Year for 2022, is one that shocked him.
“We were at the opening ceremonies, walking around, and me and coach Landa (Gann) who was the Female Coach of the Year, didn’t know until they called our names, and we were shocked, we were really surprised. It was a great experience seeing my mom take pictures, and my dad, and the whole team being there, and it was just a shocking moment, and I’ll remember it forever.”
Oertling was born and raised in Lake Charles, and he says one thing that keeps him motivated is representing his hometown and his state with pride.
“I just try to represent my city and state, I’ve been in raised and born in Lake Charles, and I just wanted to give something back to Lake Charles. My family has been a big part of my life, especially my four sisters, and so it’s been a great journey, and now I’m looking forward to 2026, even though that’s pretty far away, but I just want to enjoy the journey for now.”
The Special Olympics USA Games will be held in 2026 in Minnesota, which is what Oertling has his sights set on now.
“There will be a lot of training, and I’ll have to compete again, and qualify, and then keep going to states to qualify, we’ll see what happens, and who they pick, but if it’s not in the hands, it’s not in the hands, I won’t get upset, I’m satisfied with everything I do, and if I don’t, it’s ok, I’m just out there having fun like every Special Olympics athlete out there.”
Oertling also added that even though it’s nice to win, and everyone wants to win medals, and awards, that’s not what the Special Olympics are all about.
“The Special Olympics are about more than just winning and losing, we’re just there to have fun. I know people want to have a medal around their neck, and all of that, but we’re just out there to have fun, and to have a good time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s hot out, or whatever, we’re just out there to have fun and to compete.”
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