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Special Olympic athletes inspire Colorado coach

July 26, 2010

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Darrius Roberts of Missouri sings national anthem

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Twins Take Bronze

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Photo and Story by Chelsey Wahlstrom University of Nebraska LincolnEmily

For Erin and , softball is a family affair. At age 28 the identical twins from Sioux Falls, South Dakota won the bronze medal in Division 3 softball at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games. For Erin and Emily, the USA National Gamers were a first. In 1999, both traveled to North Carolina for the World Games.

“That was an incredible experience for them,” father Pat Gustaf said of the World Games, “So we were really looking forward to this knowing that this would be equally as incredible.”

The South Dakota softball team comes from all four corners of the state and had never played together as a team before the Games.

“The athletes are just playing great as a team. It’s been one big family,” Coach Todd Bradwisch said.

Alternating the right fielder position, the Gustaf sisters say they work well together.

“We get along and if we don’t then we just stick it out,” Erin said.

“Erin and Emily are magnificent. They are identical twins but they’re so different in personalities. One bats left and one bats right. They’re a lot of fun. I wish I had a lot more sets of twins just like them,” Bradwisch said.

The twins have been competing in the Special Olympics for 15 years in more than just softball. They have also been a part of the bowling, basketball, track and field, and swimming teams.



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Full of energy, Games end fittingly

July 24, 2010

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Members of Team Minnesota get pumped before the ceremonies.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

PJ Scott of Small Change performs at the closing ceremonies for the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Payton Scott of Small Change

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Athletes carry the Special Olympics flag off the stage.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Members of Team Nebraska await the start of the ceremonies.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The stage set before the ceremonies.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Members of Project UNIFY address the crowd. Throughout the night, they encouraged the crowd to get involved in acting towards equality for the intellectually disabled.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

LaShell Griffin performs during the closing ceremonies. Griffin also sang the national anthem.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Kristinia DeBarge performs during the ceremonies.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

DeBarge, like Small Change, Griffin and Fefe Dobson, performed multiple times throughout the evening.

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Photo by Emily Walkenhorst, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tennessee Special Olympics Athletes dance to music by Kristinia DeBarge following the ceremonies.



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Florida vs local team: the rematch

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Video by Christine Scalora, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Team Florida played another exhibition game Friday, the last day of the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games. After impressive pool play during the tournament, Special Olympics officials decided to challenge the talented Floridians by having them play a team of local high school players.

Thursday, Team Florida impressed about 500 spectators as they won the game 48 to 37.

Friday, Team Florida demonstrated their talent by taking a 23 to 13 lead at the end of the first half. But, Team Florida grew fatigued and in the last minute of the game the local team took their first lead. In the end, Team Florida lost the game 37 to 36, but they earned the respect of all who watched the game.



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Combined Spirit

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Thirty-six rhythmic gymnasts paired with 36 area gymnasts for a final performance at Pershing Auditorium. The performance was a part of 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games Sport Experience demonstration.

Video: Marlenia Thornton, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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One for Oregon

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Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

On Friday, one unified soccer team made a goal that sent the players, coaches and fans into pure elation. The goal didn’t win a gold medal. It didn’t even win the game.

Yet for one team from Sutherland, Ore., this goal was just as sweet. The team had not scored a goal throughout the entire regional, state and national competition.

In the team’s fifth game at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games, one ball changed everything. In the first half between Oregon and South Carolina, Brittany Thompson received a pass from her teammate.

She dribbled toward the goal. Past the last defender. And shot.

The ball zipped by the goalie into the yellow net.

Hands rose into the air. High fives erupted everywhere. Players, coaches, fans, even volunteers cheered. While most of the action was on the championship fields, Oregon was on the top of the world at field six.

Now, they could celebrate more than new friends, top-notch competition and state recognition. They could finally say they scored a goal.

“Even though we didn’t win, we got that goal. And every game was close,” said head coach Matt Parrish. “We always had the chance to win.”

“That was the monkey off our back,” said assistant coach Jill Fummerton.

“That makes it fun,” Parrish said. And in the end, it made this game one that Oregon fans will remember for a lifetime.



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Basketball Awards Ceremony

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Nebraska Red pause for the fans after receiving the medals on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Indiana respond to the crowd roar after receiving the awards on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Team Kentucky celebrates after receiving their awards on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Mark Levien of Iowa receives his award on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Michelle McIntosh of Nebraska Black receives her award on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Mississippi players cheer at the fans after receiving the awards on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Iowa celebrate after receiving the awards on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Latashia Doss of Iowa punches in the air as Dawn Meyers looks on after receiving their awards on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Darrius Roberts of Missouri Green leans forward to receive his award on Friday, July 23 at Southeast Lincoln High School, Lincoln NE. Photo by Farooq Baloch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.



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Kickin’ Finals

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Marcos Tapia (#7), Jose Uribe (center, #1) and James Vanderbrink (#8) head to the podium to collect the gold medal for Team Nebraska in unified soccer at the Ethel S. Abbott Sports Complex on July 23, 2010. Nebraska defeated Oklahoma in extra time, 5-3.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Arkansas coaches celebrate their win over Texas on July 23, 2010.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Team Oregon rallies around Brittany Thompson (center) after she scored the team’s first goal at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games on July 23, 2010.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Team Oregon creates a tunnel for Team South Carolina after their game on July 23, 2010.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Edson R. Irineo (#4) dribbles past a Team Oklahoma defender in unified soccer. Nebraska won the game to take the gold medal.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Intense heat and humidity cuts one player’s celebration short after Team Nebraska defeated Team Oklahoma to win the gold medal match.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Jose Uribe (left) and Humberto Tapia (#3) fall after colliding with members of Team Oklahoma.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.

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Edson R. Irineo (#4) reacts to his goal for Team Nebraska Unified Soccer against Oklahoma in the gold medal match.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page.



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Volleyball competition comes to an end

July 23, 2010

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