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Special Olympic athletes inspire Colorado coach

July 26, 2010

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One for Oregon

July 24, 2010

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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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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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Swinging hard and jumping to new heights

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Photo by: Micah Rhodes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Sam Huffman, a Maryland Special Olympics athlete, swings over the block during a volleyball match at Abbott Sports Complex.



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It’s not always about winning or losing

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Unified teams create strong bonds

July 22, 2010

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Members of the Texas Unified Volleyball Team are ready to hit the court on Thursday, July 22.

Story and Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Terri Eck is one of the biggest volleyball fan in the stands at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

Her husband, Bo, is the assistant coach. Her son, Adam, is the newest addition to the Texas Unified Volleyball Team. They’ve traveled from Allen, Texas to compete in the National Games.

To trace the many connections within the team is next to impossible.

Three of the partners are special education teachers.

There’s a father-son duo on the court.

Head coach, Sandra Boggs, is a former special education teacher.

Partner Tom Jaconet works with an athlete’s parent.

Not only is partner Lisa Grantham a special education teacher, she has taught all of the athletes in the classroom. She is also the head of delegation for Allen Special Olympics. Her son, Brantley, is also a partner.

The Unified Texas team is extraordinary. It is not just a group of athletes playing with a group of partners. These teammates mesh. They connect in a way on a court that makes you think they had been playing together since they were young.

This Unified team practices together every Wednesday throughout the year. And leading up to the national tournament, they practiced even more. They compete against other local teams in their hometown recreational league.

Adam Eck, the newest member of the team, is autistic.

In 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games, held in Ames, Iowa, Adam competed in the swimming competition. But volleyball is Adam’s latest adventure; he joined the team six months ago.

According to Terri Eck, unified play allows athletes to excel in many different levels in their lives. The experience strengthens their volleyball skills, confidence levels and personalities.

Terri was an X-ray technician, but she became inspired to become a special education teacher. She has also taught general education and now teaches English as a second language.

According to Eck the members of the Texas Unified Team have become like a family. They grow together. They change. To watch the athletes be successful on and off the court is nothing less than amazing.

Terri Eck says, “It’s not a disability. It’s a different ability.”

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Athlete Jared Williamson, #9, extends a high five to teammate Paul Landry, #10.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Brantley Grantham, #1, goes up for the hit while teammate Ryan Landry, #5, helps out.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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Volleyball match brings tough competition

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Team Maryland and Team Texas compete in the unified volleyball competition at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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A twin surprise marks the USA National Games

July 20, 2010

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Parents fly to Lincoln, Neb. to support twins during 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games


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South Carolina soccer team overcomes obstacles

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Photo by Micah Rhodes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

(Above) Goalie Dominique Dotson of Team South Carolina watches on during a soccer match against Team Nebraska. Dotson and his Special Olympics teammates are deaf, and must use sign language and other special signals to communicate on the field.

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Photo by Micah Rhodes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

South Carolina Assistant Coach Beth Goodenough congratulates her Special Olympics athletes following one of their soccer matches. Goodenough bridges the communication gap between her athletes and the officials, doing a majority of the sign language translation.



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