Featured, Local News, Sports

Hartland golfer competes in U.S. paralympics

By Curt Peterson

Jennifer Mayfield, 29, is one of six athletes representing the Vermont Special Olympics at the USA Games in Orlando this week. The state delegation includes one other golfer, two track athletes and two swimmers.

Fourteen support people accompany the athletes. Mayfield’s father Brett Mayfield will serve as her caddy.

Courtesy Special Olympics Vermont
Jennifer Mayfield practiced her putting before competition.

A total of 5,500 athletes will compete in 19 sports at different central Florida venues. The Walt Disney Company co-hosts the event.

Competition includes nine holes each day during the four-day tournament, two practice rounds and two competitive rounds. Orange County National Golf Course in nearby Winter Garden, Florida, where the competition will take place, has one nine-hole and two eighteen-hole courses.

The trip to Orlando wasn’t flawless — the delegation’s flight from Burlington to New York was delayed and there was no gate available to disembark. The athletes and their entourage had to wait in their plane for an hour. When they finally got to Florida, the temperature was 90 degrees. But the Paralympics mantra is, “Never Give Up!”

“It’s hot, but it’s fun,” Mayfield told the Mountain Times in a phone interview.

Her mother Liz Barker said Mayfield was excited to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse after their choreographed performance at the introduction ceremony in the Exploria Stadium.

Mayfield was born in Newport and has lived in Hartland for over 10 years. She’s been participating in Special Olympics for 18 years, including floor hockey, skiing, track events, basketball and bowling, and took up golf as her main interest eight years ago. A good round for her is 60 strokes for nine holes.

“It takes hard work and focus,” she said.

Mayfield learned very recently that she had qualified to represent Vermont, and her invitation was quickly followed by a public message from Annika Sorenstam, Swedish LPGA superstar, who said in a video that she was very impressed by Mayfield’s efforts and accomplishments.

“I know you will make us proud,” Sorenstam told Mayfield.

Each of the athletes carries a supply of state “pins” to swap with competitors from other states. Vermont’s is circular and has a representation of the Green Mountains on it. Mayfield has already collected about a dozen from other participants.

Besides a love for golf, Mayfield said she would love to win a medal in the competition this week.

“I have lots of medals,” she said, and loves to show them off. “I keep them on my bedside table.”

Mayfield said she appreciates her mother’s support with her Paralympics efforts.

“She’s always there for me,” she said, adding, “Right now I’m hungry and I want to eat.”

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