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The games are a family affair for the Wattersons

July 21, 2010

Nick Watterson

Missouri power lifter Nick Watterson receives another gold medal on Monday at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

Photo and Story by: Corinne Burger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Go for the Gold” yelled 26 year old Missourian athlete Nick Watterson as he accepted his third gold medal in power lifting at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games on Monday.

Nick has been involved in Special Olympics for almost 10 years, participating in basketball, bowling, softball, swimming and his favorite, power lifting. After eight years of competing, Nick achieved his goal of gold this week declaring, “The hard work pays off.”

The Special Olympics have become a family affair for the Wattersons from Springfield, Mo. Nick’s father, David, is involved in the organization as Nick’s day-to-day power lifting coach and the youngest Watterson children, Noel and Michael, have competed in the Special Olympics Unified Sports program for softball, bowling and basketball.

In addition, Nick’s brother Jonathan is currently the coach for the Missouri basketball team at the USA National Games in Lincoln. Jonathan attributes his involvement as a coach to his brother, saying, “Nick is my personal motivational speaker. He’s a daily inspiration to me.”

Not only has the organization had an impact on the Wattersons individually, but their time spent working together also has had a huge impact on their relationships with each other. “The experience has really brought us so much closer as a family,” says Nick’s mother, Cindy Watterson.

The whole family feels blessed to be able to come together and experience the games and see the athletes compete, they said. Knowing how hard his own son works to be able to compete, David commends all the athletes at the USA National Games. “It’s total hard work and dedication. All these athletes should be honored for what they’ve done just to get here. Special Olympics opens up a whole new world to special kids with the same heart and aspirations of being a champion.”

Cheering

Jonathan, Michael, and Noel Watterson cheer on their brother as their mother, Cindy, captures the moment on film.

Family

Front: Noel Watterson, Cindy Watterson, coach Eddie Blaylock of St. Louis. Back: Jonathan Watterson, Nick Watterson, Michael Watterson and David Watterson.



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Faces of flag football, Day 3

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Andrew Kline, 27, from Omaha, Neb., watches his team compete. Kline is a member of the Nebraska White team.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Kline cheers for his team from the sidelines.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Brennan Mickens, 20, from Kansas City, Mo., attends a Missouri flag football game. Mickens is a member of the Missouri bowling team who came to support another Missouri team.

Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Missouri fan Lina Hill cheers for the Missouri team. Hill is from Blue Springs, Mo., and is supporting her son, Bernard Hill.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Power lifter Nick Watterson (26) of Springfield, Mo., proudly displays his three gold medals. Watterson won his medals on Monday and is now finished with his events and plans to spend the rest of the week supporting other Missouri teams.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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David Svitak is a 27-year-old basketball player from Downers Grove, Ill. Svitak and some of his basketball teammates visited the flag football venue to see one of the other sports at the Special Olympics.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Brandi Vanvleke cheers for the Missouri flag football team. Vanvleke is from Kansas City, Mo., and has a sister participating in the bocce ball competition. But she wanted to watch her home state’s team play flag football on Wednesday.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Morgan Plant cheers for the Texas flag football team in between her scheduled soccer games. Plant is a 17-year-old soccer player from Houston, Texas.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Tori Jones (17) sits on the bench and watches her Tennessee flag football team. Jones is one of two girls participating in the sport of flag football at this year’s games.

Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Isla Brassil sits on the sidelines at the flag football games with her parents and two brothers. The family is not immediately linked to Special Olympics but wanted to be watch some of the competitions in their hometown of Lincoln, Neb.

Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Texas flag football player Mike Earnst watches his team from the bench. Earnst is 21 and is from Baytown, Texas.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Joe Volpert watches the Nebraska Red flag football team. Volpert, like many of the Nebraska Red players, is from Papillion-LaVista and commented on the opportunity he has had to watch many of the players grow up and now compete at the Special Olympics.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Michael Tom smiles big on the bench of his Arizona flag football team. Tom, 27, is from Chandler, Ariz.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Rhonda Stadter, from Blue Springs, Mo., shouts encouragement to the Missouri flag football team.
Photo by Asha Anchan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



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