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Volleyball competition helps twins learn and grow

July 21, 2010

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Stephanie and Samantha Castleberry are never low on high-fives at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

Photo and story by: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Special Olympians are special people, people like Samantha and Stephanie Castleberry.

The twins, 19, traveled from Fountain, S.C., to play volleyball at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games. Both girls were born with Down syndrome.

Brian Maddux started coaching them in roller skating five years ago and has been their coach ever since. He describes the girls as close-knit, loving and friendly. Watching them play, you will know there is something extraordinary.

Playing off the Olympics’ motto, Maddux described the twins’ attitude: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me pop it over the net.”

The girls are part of a unified team, which includes Special Olympics athletes and other athletes. Maddux said that, during Tuesday’s game, one of the unified players had the opportunity to hit the ball over the net but instead set it up for Samantha. After Samantha smacked the ball over the net, he said, the smile on her face was priceless.

It is rare that a set of twins were born with Down syndrome, but in addition, both girls are fluent in sign language. Samantha and Stephanie’s parents are deaf. Maddox said the twins’ ability to understand the complex nature of sign language is nothing less than amazing.

On Tuesday, the girls’ grandmother, Dorothy Kriesel, and father, Dan Kriesel, surprised them by showing up to watch their game.

Participating in the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games allows the twins to interact in a different competitive setting.

Maddox said, “Most of us live in this little box of our experience, and to be exposed to something outside of that — I believe we call that growth.”

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Stephanie Castleberry dances with her coach, Brian Maddox, before the volleyball all star game.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Stephanie and Samantha stand with their coach and teacher Brian Maddox.

Photo: Amanda Schutz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Samantha and Stephanie pictured with their grandmother, Dorothy Kriesel, and father, Dan Kriesel.

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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