SCRANTON — Two Special Olympics silver medalists were welcomed home to Northeastern Pennsylvania on Aug. 6 with a party, complete with balloons, a congratulatory banner and cake, at Allied Services.
Jeff Snyder, of Clarks Summit, a program manager in the Community Services Division at Allied Services, and his golf partner Bobby Robbins, of Gibson, represented the United States of America in Level Three Unified Golf, placing second at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games July 25 through Aug. 7 in Los Angeles, California.
The two athletes have played together on the same team for 10 years and became golf partners about three years ago.
“Bobby and I have a pretty good chemistry together,” Snyder said. “We have that good blend of being able to help each other out of trouble.”
Robbins’ strength is off the tee and in the short game. Snyder does best in the long game.
“We kind of just play off each other, and it just works,” Snyder said.
“Playing with Jeff is really a fun time, with me and Jeff together,” Robbins said.
Robbins also enjoyed meeting other players from around the world and cheering them on.
“We had so much fun playing the other teams, and playing against Norway — we tied with them for second place,” he said.
“The whole experience itself was just amazing,” Snyder said of the games. “We got to play with wonderful people. It was very stiff competition, but everyone was nice and friendly.”
“The guys from Norway; they hit the ball really far,” he said. “They out-passed my drive a couple of times.”
Snyder said the duo competed in the summer games at Penn State and qualified as alternates for the nationals in New Jersey, but didn’t go. Then, they were picked for an opening in the Level Three Unified Partner, 18 holes. Although they initially did not expect to be at the games, the pair was well prepared for the competition after a lot of practice with other Special Olympics athletes at Rock Creek Golf Course in Nicholson and a week of training from Oct. 1-7, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
When they won second place and received their silver medals, both athletes were surprised and excited.
“I was surprised because my partner Jeff thought we were going to get bronze, and I would have been happy to get the bronze,” Robbins said. “I was happy for the silver, for tying with them [Norway].”
“It was overwhelming,” Snyder said. “I did not expect that. It was just an amazing experience. Just the experience of being there was worth its weight in gold to me.”