COLUMBUS — For Candice Arteaga, the experience is about more than winning.

Last weekend's softball tournament in Columbus was a chance to enjoy the sport she loves with those who face the same challenges she does.

“Having fun and having a good experience is what it’s all about,” said Arteaga, who got involved with the Midwest Athletic Association of the Deaf (MAAD) 17 years ago.

The Greenwood resident and Iowa City, Iowa, native has gotten more involved with the organization over the years.

Last year, she became a board member for the group that includes nine Midwest states, including Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, and this year she led the softball side of things.

“We work together to organize the events and pick places to host softball,” said Arteaga, who is also a board member for the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NCDHH).

She wants to get more people from the deaf and hard of hearing community involved in activities such as softball.

“I just want to get deaf and hard of hearing people together and enjoy each other from all nine states,” she said. “We communicate by sign language mostly and we really have a great time coming together each year.”

MAAD brought its annual softball tournament to Columbus for the first time last weekend, when four teams featuring players from seven different states competed.

Midwest Maulers won the championship for the fifth straight year. They beat Arteaga’s team, Midwest Underdogs, in the championship game.

Arteaga said the players enjoyed their time in Columbus.

“I thought it was a great turnout and everyone really enjoyed the games. They also got to see what Columbus was all about,” she said.

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