Belen is a 20 year old new player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Belen’s two major soccer positions are forward and defense. She has been playing soccer since she was 9 years old; she began playing soccer because of her older brother. Belen soon found that soccer was her passion. At Thomas Jefferson High School she played soccer all four years for the varsity team. She also played club soccer in the summer and now Belen plays soccer for fun through Denver Parks and Recreation.
Belen heard about the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids team through her high school soccer coach. She thought it sounded like a lot of fun and a great cause. She is excited to become a part of the team and meet all of the players. Belen already has one friend on the team, Gabe DaSilva. Gabe is also a new member; they played soccer together at Thomas Jefferson High School. She can’t wait to play soccer with Gabe again and have a great time playing with and meeting her new teammates.
Aaron is a 16 year old addition to the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Aaron has been involved in several sports over the years and is excited to get another opportunity to make new friends and have a good time playing a new sport with his teammates.
In high school Aaron got a taste of just about every venue there was to offer. He participated in track and field, basketball, baseball, soccer, horseback riding, skiing and other activities sanctioned through his school. Aaron is always open to try something new and the Rapids All Star Team will now be another activity he can add to his long list.
Within Jefferson High School and Jefferson County Aaron has been able to be a part of several organizations, clubs, and activities within the area. One of the organizations that Aaron was a part of was Sports Made Possible. He flourished here and has been trying out other organizations and activities to meet other people and have a good time with his friends.
Ibsen is a 17 year old forward for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. His high energy and free loving spirit fits well with his position as forward. He loves scoring goals and brings a positive and enthusiastic attitude to every game and practice.
Ibsen has been involved with soccer ever since he was young. His entire family has played or is still playing soccer. It could be said that they are soccer fanatics. Each Sunday Ibsen and his family play soccer together and his dad is also on a soccer league. He has learned to love the game and it has become a way of life for him and his family. He has been participating in sports with Special Olympics Colorado since he was 7. Mostly Ibsen plays soccer, but he is involved in basketball as well.
Going to Seattle is something that Ibsen is really looking forward to. His father says that “he can’t stop talking about it. He tells everyone.” The player from the Rapids that Ibsen likes the most is Conor Casey. Conor reminds him of his favorite Mexican soccer player “El Bofo” Bautista. “They are both bald”, he says. “They look a lot alike”. He is excited to meet the team in Seattle and he can’t wait to play more soccer.
Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl is a 17 year old goalie for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Though she often plays goalie, she is also experienced in all other positions. Just last spring Mackenzie scored over 10 goals while also stopping every goal but one as goal keeper. To give a glimpse of her versatility, Mackenzie is involved in 6 other Special Olympic Colorado Sports including: tennis, track, basketball, softball, snowboarding and cycling.
Mackenzie began playing sports in high school. She was on the high school volleyball and basketball team; however she found her true inspiration when she attended a Special Olympics Colorado demonstration in one of her local Denver public schools. She enjoys the social atmosphere of Special Olympics and has culminated many friendships through the several sports she participates in.
Mackenzie’s favorite Rapids players are Omar Cummings, Conor Casey, and Matt Pickens. Mackenzie has already been able to meet Conor and Matt during the Special Olympics Rapids drills practice and the “Shop with a Jock” event held at Dick’s Sporting Goods. She is excited to meet the rest of the team in Seattle and is also “excited to beat the other team”. She began playing soccer because of her older brother and now she is on her way to her own Championship Cup Series in Seattle Washington.
Conor is a 20 year old mid-fielder for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. He has been playing soccer for 5 years and has been a part of Special Olympics Colorado since 2002. In 2002, Conor was looking for a team where he could find a group of good friends and would be treated with respect. He found that with his Special Olympics Colorado Basketball team and has since joined soccer and tennis. His main sport now is tennis and he has been taking individual lessons to better his game.
Conor’s favorite Colorado Rapids soccer player is Conor Casey. So far he has met Matt Pickens, Brian Mullan, Tony Cascio, and Conor Casey and he says, “they are all great and really nice”. Conor is looking forward to hanging out with the Rapids players and is also “excited to meet the Sounders All-Star team and play soccer with them”. Though soccer is his main focus, he also wants to travel around Seattle and see all of the sites.
Conor is not the only person in his family to play soccer either. His sister, Erin, played soccer on her high school team and his cousin played soccer for the Olympic Development Program in Maryland as well as on his collegiate soccer team. Conor is excited to experience a new city and to play soccer with his teammates in Seattle.
Unified Sports Partner
Leah is a 13 year old player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Leah is very versatile and plays many different positions; however her favorite position is defense. She has been playing soccer with Special Olympics Colorado for 4 years and has been playing soccer for her school for 4 years as well. Before soccer, Leah’s passion was basketball. She has played basketball with Special Olympics Colorado for 6 years and has also been the girls basketball manager at Denver Center for International Studies.
Leah began playing soccer so that she would have a sport to play year round. Now she plays basketball in the winter and soccer in the summer. She also enjoys downhill skiing at Vail and Arapahoe Basin, which is her favorite resort.
Though Leah loves the winter skiing weather, she is not as fond of the hot summer climate. She is excited to go to Seattle to get out of the heat and experience the cool temperatures and rainy weather. Leah is most looking forward to creating new bonds and friendships with the Special Olympics team in Seattle. She is excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to experience the city of Seattle.
Benjamin Hollis is a 16 year old forward for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids soccer team. Ben likes the forward position the most because it gives him the greatest opportunity to score goals. Just last spring Ben scored 10 goals and he is hoping to score more in the tournament in Seattle.
Ben has been playing soccer with Special Olympics Colorado for 3 years now and enjoys all of the people he has met. Not only does Ben play soccer, but he also competes in softball, basketball and cycling. He says that basketball and soccer are his two favorite sports, but he likes having a variety of sports so that he can compete year round.
Tony Cascio is Ben’s favorite Rapids player and he is very excited to get to meet him in Seattle. Along with meeting Tony, Ben is also excited to fly. This will be Ben’s second time flying and he can’t wait to relive that experience again. While in Seattle, he will also get the chance to see his older sister. Ben began playing soccer because he wanted to follow in his older sister’s footsteps. She had played soccer in high school and he wanted to give it a try. Now Ben will be flying to Seattle to play soccer and his older sister, who now lives in Olympia, Washington, will be able to watch her younger brother at his finest.
Unified Sports Partner
Tiah Johnson is a 15 year old defensive player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. This is Tiah’s first season playing soccer with Special Olympics Colorado and is excited for this new opportunity. Though Tiah has not played soccer before, she has been involved with athletics and Special Olympics Colorado for several years. Tiah’s parents began volunteering with Special Olympics at a young age and Tiah began to enjoy it as well. She has been a volunteer for track and field for several years and is also a member of her high school’s cross country running team.
Tiah has been to Seattle once before and is excited to get to go back. The aspect of Seattle that she enjoyed most was the rain. She likes Colorado, but she is excited to experience the wet climate Seattle has to offer. Tiah says that there is not a specific place in Seattle that she wants to visit, but she is excited to play soccer and watch the Colorado Rapids take on the Seattle Sounders.
Dominic is a goalie for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Though he enjoys playing goalie, his favorite part about soccer is scoring goals. This is his first year playing soccer, but Dominic has been involved in several other sports with Special Olympics Colorado and also with his high school. He has played basketball, track and field, tennis and bowling through Special Olympics Colorado and has also been on the John F. Kennedy High School track team and lettered as a cross country runner for his high school.
Dominic began playing sports with Special Olympics Colorado around age 5 and has enjoyed the different qualities of each sport. This shows in his wide range of sports and athletic abilities. Recently Dominic met his favorite Rapids player, Tony Cascio at the “Shop with a Jock” event at Dick’s Sporting Goods. He said that “Tony is a cool player and is really nice to all the kids on my team”. He is excited to get the chance to play in Seattle and to watch Tony as the Rapids take on the Seattle Sounders. Dominic hasn’t heard much about Seattle other than the rainy weather, but that doesn’t matter much to Dominic. He says, “I am just really excited to play soccer and I hope we can kick butt”.
Unified Sports Partner
Kristen is a 21 year old player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. She plays many positions, but when asked, she said forward was her favorite. Kristen started playing soccer when she was young. She began playing in a community soccer league and finished her 7 year soccer career playing for her high school team as a freshman. After her freshman year of high school she decided to pick up a tennis racket. Kristen played tennis throughout high school and has now decided to come back to soccer with Special Olympics Colorado.
Kristen heard about the Special Olympics Colorado soccer program through her work with Adaptive Recreation under the Parks and Recreation system here in Denver. Her colleagues recommended that she be a partner for the Special Olympics Colorado Soccer Team and so far she has really enjoyed it.
Kristen is excited to go to Seattle to play soccer and also to see the city. She has heard that Seattle is a very pretty city and she hopes to get the chance to see all it has to offer.