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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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‘We are Rhode Island’

July 23, 2010

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Video: Brandon Frakes, Marcus Scheer, Chelsey Wahlstrom (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Rhode Island Unified Soccer Team is from the smallest city in the smallest state and is taking Lincoln by storm. The team from Central Falls, R.I. is tied for the first seed in its division and has its eyes set on the gold. As the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games wrap-up, Rhode Island hopes to make its state proud in Friday’s finals.



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Brothers play for Nebraska unified soccer team

July 20, 2010

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Video: Marcus Scheer (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Teammates and brothers, Marcos and Humberto Tapia, play for fun and for each other on the Nebraska unified soccer team.



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Soccer brings smiles

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Rhode Island Unified Soccer Team members shake hands with the South Carolina team after the game on July 20, 2010, at the Ethel S. Abbott Sports Complex.

“Today I believe our team came out and did their best. They left everything on the field,” said head coach Katie Gomes. The team is from the smallest city in the smallest state: Central Falls, Rhode Island.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Fans stand up and cheer during the unified soccer match between Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Timothy Knutson (No. 34) celebrates his goal for the Montana soccer team in a game against Utah.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Rhode Island soccer head coach Katie Gomes (center) and the rest of the team huddle before playing South Carolina.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Kandi Christophersen (No. 35) hugs her cousin after a game on July 19, 2010. Her parents, Roy and Sandy Kessler (seated right), are here in Lincoln. Kandi will be celebrating her third wedding anniversary on Wednesday with her husband and soccer teammate Bill Christophersen.

(July 19, 2010)
Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Special Olympics partners with KFRX to find a “Super Fan”

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Street Team member Matt Harvey records a video of cheering fans during a soccer match.

Photo and story by Micah Rhodes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Fans were in “full-support” mode during the first day of competition on the soccer field sidelines at Abbott Sports Complex. Crowds of parents, siblings, friends and other spectators waved yellow, orange and red pom-poms and flapped hand clappers in encouragement for the 295 athletes participating in the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games’ soccer events.

“This is like the World Cup,” one Special Olympics athlete proclaimed after a soccer match. “But better,” he added with a beaming smile.

Matt Harvey and Holly Milburn, both University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, distributed boxes of pom-poms and noisemakers to anyone with a free hand and challenged the fans to be louder than the person seated next to them.

“Who is the biggest fan in the stands today?” Harvey yelled, his fingers gripping a video recorder. “Let’s hear your best cheering voices.”

Harvey and Milburn belong to the “Street Team,” a group created and put in motion by the USA National Games. Their main focus remains volunteer recruitment and education. The team helped with the volunteer recruitment in February, March and April by attending elementary and high school lunches and talking with students to better inform them about the games. As the push to enlist volunteers gradually slowed, the focus shifted more to educating local youth about Special Olympics and people with intellectual disabilities. The Street Team attended elementary school and youth events to talk to and interact with students.

Milburn said, “Basically, what we’ve done is encourage the city of Lincoln to volunteer, as well as work to instill the core values of Special Olympics in everyone.”

So why the pom-poms, hand clappers and video recorders?

A Lincoln radio station, 106.3 KFRX, is searching for “Super Fans” at different venues throughout the games. The Street Team, Harvey and Milburn included, is leading the hunt. They motivate the fans in the stands, using flip cameras to document cheers and screams—the crazier the better.

KFRX for almost two years stood as a proud partner to the Games, according to Sarah Leeth, vice president marketing and communications. However, the search for a super fan started only about two weeks ago.

“We’ve been talking and wanting to promote this idea for a long time, but it never really became a reality until recently,” Leeth said. “We are thrilled to have KFRX as a partner to help endorse the games. With their energy and enthusiasm, it is a perfect fit for us to have them get our ‘Be a Fan’ message out to the public.”

Leeth and the games work with Matt McKay of KFRX, and several live radio broadcasts are planned for the week. The station is also helping to promote the Youth Rally Closing Ceremony that will take place on Friday from 7-9 p.m.

At the end of the week, the Games and KFRX plan to only recognize a scant few as super fans. But anyone can be a super fan in the eyes and hearts of competing Special Olympics athletes.

“Someone who goes above and beyond to let the athletes know they are supported 100 percent, and then some,” Milburn said when asked to describe a super fan. “They [the athletes] feed from the crowd’s energy, so the fans are more important than they might think.”

Harvey said, “My idea of a super fan is the person who can add excitement to the games by cheering on the athletes. It is important that their cheering bring out the most sought after prize of the week—the athlete’s smile.”

“Whether that fan is dressed up for their state, wearing the colors of the Games or simply cheering for an athlete that needs some support, the super fan can be any number of people. If you get the athlete to smile, you win in my book. But adding a little flare to your cheering never hurts.”



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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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Florida athlete garners Texas support

July 19, 2010

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Video and Photos: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Florida soccer athlete Jessie Fusilier has arrived in Lincoln with more than just a will to score goals. His grandparents from Orange, Texas have driven to Nebraska to watch Jessie compete in the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.



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Athletes with hearing impairment strive for soccer gold

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A South Carolina soccer team with athletes containing hearing impairment are competing this week in the 2010 Special Olympic USA National games



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Soccer kicks off

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The unified soccer division began Monday morning with a match between North Dakota and Arizona at the Ethel S. Abbott Sports Complex on July 19, 2010. Every soccer team will be evaluated during the first day’s games to determine the level of play and schedule.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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A North Dakota soccer player waits to kick the ball while warming up before the first game.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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A referee checks the cleats of the Arizona unified soccer team before the match against North Dakota.

Photo: Marcus Scheer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
For more photos by Marcus, check out his Flickr page here.
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Members of the Florida unified soccer team take a break before their game against Oregon.

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