Jul. 23—JAMESTOWN — If anybody has been to a University of Jamestown home sporting event in the last 21 years, you have undoubtedly seen a familiar face there. In addition to being a Jimmies superfan and volunteer assistant, 42-year-old Blaine Schulz is an accomplished athlete.
Schulz has competed in five Special Olympics World Games and medaled in four of them. He has competed in snowshoeing for 10 years and has participated in the Special Olympics games since 1988.
"My favorite part of snowshoeing is being with other people, other athletes, that are doing the same thing that I'm doing," Schulz said. "They're out having fun in the snow and competing and they're just having a good time."
When he was born, Schulz was diagnosed with microcephaly, a birth defect in which a newborn's head is smaller than expected for similar newborns of the same age and gender, which causes potential intellectual disabilities or speech delay among other potential symptoms. In 2006, Schulz was inducted into the Special Olympics North Dakota Hall of Fame.
"The Hall of Fame really gives me a perspective of doing well and doing it not just for me but for the program itself because of the program, it makes us feel like we're above everybody else," Schulz said. "We get recognized for it."
Schulz has competed all over the world including as far as Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2013, where he won a silver medal in the men's 200-meter snowshoe final.
"It was an experience that I've never experienced before," Schulz said. "It was a long trip. It was fun and we got to see some new people and the people are very very nice."
The fact that Schulz has been embraced by the Jimmies athletic department brings a huge smile to the faces of his parents, Terry and Marna Schulz.
"It means the world," Terry Schulz said. "It literally means the world. It gives him a chance to socialize, to get to know the players, the players to get to know him. He's a good ambassador for Special Olympics and people with disabilities, and it just means the world to us."
Since he first started supporting the Jimmies, many faces have come and gone, but Blaine Schulz has stayed true to his hometown program. Terry Schulz estimates his son has attended over 400 games over the years. He said the athletic department has seen an increase in support over the years.
"I think the program has really taken off," Blaine Schulz said. "I think the support of the community and the surrounding communities really make it what it is today."
Despite Blaine not volunteering a favorite memory of supporting the Jimmies, Terry posited that his son's favorite memory was being part of the Jimmies men's basketball team during one of former Jimmies head coach Brad Huse's trips with his team to the NAIA tournament in Branson, Missouri.
"When Brad Huse and the team went and he got to be part of the team in the opening ceremony," Terry Schulz said. "He got to sit on the bench with them. I would be surprised if that wasn't one of his favorite, most memorable moments of being included."
Even though he loves winter sports, Blaine Schulz said his best sport is swimming and his favorite event is the 50-meter freestyle. In keeping with that, he said he is hoping to help out with the Jimmies women's swimming and diving team.
Despite the cancellation of the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Kazan, Russia, Schulz said he is looking forward to participating in the 2025 Turin games. He has to get creative with his snowshoe workouts during the summer.
"In the summer, I'm at the gym," Schulz said. "I work out, I do my legs, I do my upper body. I'm pretty much at the gym two times a week."