Blog

Special Olympics

10 September 3:02 pm

The Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified team met at Corey Elementary School on Monday for a final practice before hosting a Special Olympics team from Dallas.

Rapids players Drew Moor and Chris Klute helped the players work on their passing skills while Matt Pickens worked with fellow goalkeeper Morgan on goalkeeping skills.

Following warmups, the players faced off against Rapids players and staff and Special Olympics Colorado staff in a scrimmage. After the first 15 minute half, Drew Moor peesented fellow team captain Sam with a Captain's Arm Band. Drew had a few words for Sam, explaining that being a team captain "is a great responsibility." Drew further explained that a team captain must be "the first one on the field and the last one off the field" and must also "be inspiring his team." Click here to read Sam's account of the exchange.

Coach Aspen DeField admits that the Unified team beat their coaches and the Rapids staff so it looks like the team is ready for Saturday!

Check out more photos from practice!

15 August 11:24 am

After an exciting debut season, the Colorado Rapids Unified Soccer Team began training for the start of the second year last night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. A few players returned from last year's team and were met by new teammates as Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens and defender Chris Klute put the athletes through their first workout of the season.

The players also received their new uniforms which they'll debut on Sept. 14 when they host a Special Olympics team from Dallas.

CLICH HERE for the 2013 roster with bios.

CLICK HERE to check out the photos from the first day of training and come back for more updates before and after each match.

30 July 1:56 pm

This past Saturday, July 28 the Special Olympics Rapids took on the Special Olympics Sounders at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Despite a 2-0 loss, the SO Rapids enjoyed playing in the stadium, under the big lights with family and fans on the sidelines. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08 July 7:01 pm

On Sunday, the players arrived at Starfire Complex around 10:30 for the 12 pm match. After getting ready they took part in the Opening Ceremony, which included a welcome message from Sounders VP Gary Wright and a Washington Olympian reciting the Special Olympics oath:

“Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Rapids Olympian Andie Zitek then sang the national anthem and we were ready to kick off.

Our captain Mackenzie Beauvias-Niki scored for us, and Dominic Sisneros played a great game in goal, taking a couple hard shots off the chest and hands. But in the end it was the Washington Olympians that came away with the 5-1 win. 

However the score seemed almost secondary to the amount of fun these athletes had. It was a special event, complete with the Soundwave band which showed up at halftime and played most of the second half and post-game

They then had former U.S. National Team and Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller lead awards ceremony, and he was joined by Sounders players Cato and Roger Levesque.

Conor Coleman - who if you've kept up on these post, you realize is a ham - was infatuated with the big horns of the Soundwave, and he made a new friend that let him try it out.

And what has been perhaps the most hilarious moment of the entire trip, Colorado's Ipsen Ayala photo-bombed the Sounders team picture with the team, Southwave, Keller, etc. Check out photo and his pose below – it explains it all. It was all in good humor and everyone got a good laugh.

08 July 12:23 pm

A lot has happened since I last post, so let's catch up.

After Saturday water fights / scrimmage / practice, we had some down time before heading to Century Link Field to watch our Rapids take on the Seattle Sounders, so we did a Duck tTour together with the Washington Special Olympians, checking out the sites of Seattle.

Here's the surprise we held from telling the players: just a few minutes before we left the hotel, we told them they'd be getting the first-class treatment at the game by sitting in a private suite. To say they were excited is an understatement - they were screaming with joy from the hotel lobby and until they entered the suite!

We watched the game and afterwards brought everyone down to the field, where the players received words of encouragement from Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid (right). Seattle's Roger Levesque gave each player a gift bag and Marvell Wynne also came back out to greet them (below).

That's Conor Coleman raising his hand in the photo on the right. He and Sigi were on a first name basis after all his questions, the last being: "Did you like coaching or playing better?" Sigi told him playing was his #1, and coaching #2.

From then, it was time to go back to the hotel to rest for Sunday's match.

07 July 4:25 pm

So, now to a few notes about this morning's practice, which took place at Seattle Washington University's Championship field from about 11 to 12:30 or so. Just before practice, our Olympians met the Special Olympics Washington team for the first time, then practices along side them.

You see that guy in the photo to the right, that's Ibsen Ayala (FULL BIO). He was getting a little help with his shoes from the coaching staff. Though that smile has me believing he thinks he's some kind of superstar receiving superstar treatment, just leaning back while two coaching work on both shoes. I think I even saw a little wink after I took the photo.

Once ready and stretched the team played shark and did other drills for about an hour. And while soccer was the main focus, Conor Coleman - he of the great one-liner to Conor Casey - couldn't get his mind off last night's dessert. He apparently loved the Godiva cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, because he couldn't stop talking about.

And what would a training session along side your opponent be without a little friction. Well, it wasn't really like that, but the two teams got into a little friendly water fight during one of the breaks. No clear winners, just a lot of water!

The final 30 minutes of practice was a 5-v-5 scrimmage, which ended in a 3-3 tie, setting up a good showdown tomorrow. Rapids 'keeper Dominic Sisneros (FULL BIO) took his instructions from coach Philip Knight (FULL BIO) well, because he played fantastic (below). 

At the end of practice, the teams huddle up and congratulated each other, yelling out a "Unified" on 3!

 

07 July 4:03 pm

First things first, I think this deserves it's own post. Just before practice started this morning in Seattle, the coaching staff named Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl the Special Olympics Colorado team captain.

The 17-year-old is a goalie on this team, but it's clear her talents are many. Just last spring Mackenzie scored over 10 goals while also stopping every goal but one as goal keeper. And get this, Mackenzie is also involved in 6 other Special Olympic Colorado Sports including: tennis, track, basketball, softball, snowboarding and cycling.

Check out her full bio here!

06 July 11:29 pm

It's neat how the Olympians recognize the Rapids players, and vice versa. Rapids All-time leading scorer Conor Casey and five-time MLS Cup champion Brian Mullan conducted a clinic for these athletes back in Colorado a few weeks ago, so they're still fresh in each other's memories. The Olympians all remember Conor and Brian giving them their Rapids gear!

Tony Cascio and Matt Pickens took the Olympians on a shopping spree at Dick's Sporting Goods in Belmar one night to buy whatever else they needed for the trip.

And if there was any doubt that these athletes are also big fans of the Rapids, Conor Coleman (pictured above with Casey; FULL BIO) made it clear when he provided the quote of the night - possibly the year - when he told Casey to: "Beat the Sounders to a pulp!"

Wayne Brant is the Colorado Rapids Marketing Manager, who is traveling with the Special Olympics Colorado athletes on the trip to Seattle.

06 July 11:09 pm

(Above: Luis Zapata (left) and Wells Thompson (center) shake hands and accept the Special t-shirts upon arrival in Seattle)

Not long after we arrived in Seattle, we headed out for a team meal at Cheesecake Factory. It took some of the athletes a little time to relax and feel comfortable, after all, this is one of the first times many of them have been away from the comforts of family and home. But as we've all experience, sports has a way of making us comfortable when we can share our passion with others that feel the same way.

After dinner, we brought the Olympians to the Rapids team hotel to greet the team as they arrived. (The Rapids team trained in Colorado this morning and came to Seattle on a later flight than we did).

And this is when the Olympian really began to feel at ease. As the Rapids players got off the bus and walked into the hotel, the Olympians greeted them with "Let's go Rapids" chants and presented each player with Special Olympics Colorado grey and orange t-shirt. The back had a string of positive one word messages, such as "RESPECT, STRENGTH, PASSION, DETERMINATION, FRIENDSHIP, etc."

They then gave head coach Oscar Pareja a Colorado Rapids flag that all the Olympians signed as a gesture of good luck from another member of our One Club. Omar Cummings was then requested to join them in a team photo (below). 

On a more humorous note, we told the Olympians that it was Rapids traveling PR rep Rachel Sweeney's birthday. So when they saw, they united to sing her Happy Birthday.

Wayne Brant is the Colorado Rapids Marketing Manager, who is traveling with the Special Olympics Colorado athletes on the trip to Seattle.

06 July 4:05 pm

The first big weekend is finally here! The Special Olympics Colorado athletes arrived in Seattle, Washington on Friday afternoon ahead of the first of a two-game series against the athletes from Special Olympics Washington.

The group, decked out in the custom apparel the Rapids' first team travels with - complete with Colorado Rapids polos and jackets and adidas travel bags - arrived in Seattle shortly before 2 pm local time. Staying in downtown, they'll have dinner this evening at Cheesecake Factory before settling in.

Training on Saturday will take place at Seattle University from 11-12:30 pm. The group will then attend the Rapids vs Seattle Sounders match at CenturyLInk Field in the evening.

The Olympians will square off Sunday at the Starfire Complex at 12 pm PT.