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It’s not always about winning or losing

July 23, 2010

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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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Nebraska power lifter posts personal best

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Wednesday was a monumental day for powerlifter Gregory Blankman and his family. Blankman, 24, of Plattsmouth, Neb., brought home four medals at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games. In the squat competition, he placed second with a lift of 275.6 pounds. This lift also was his personal best. In the bench press competition, Blankman pressed 181.9 pounds. In the deadlift event, he lifted 314.2 pounds. In the all around triple competition, Blankman brought home the silver medal.

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Gregory Blankman receives his silver medal from Michael Kemp, executive board member of Special Olympics Nebraska.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Gregory Blankman displays his powerlifting pose at the awards ceremony.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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