Written by Doug Fulton, Senior Manager of Fan Development at KSE
What an honor it is to be a part of the Rapids Unified team!
Project Unify is everything that is right about sports and goes beyond the play on the pitch. It is one of the most important programs I have seen in my 13 years of working at Kroenke Sports. It is about athletes coming together, celebrating each other for who they are, supporting their teammates, improving their soccer skills and bringing smiles to everyone who comes into contact with Unified sports. For most of these athletes it is the first time they have flown on a plane and traveled without their family. They get to experience new opportunities and take risks which allow them to grow. The coaches and partners are amazing, but the Special Olympics athletes are the heart of the team.
The pictures show the joy and smiles on the faces of everyone involved – the players, coaches, refs, staff, parents, volunteers and fans. This program is a priority for the team and you can see it in the kits the team wears, the support of the players from the First Team and the involvement of the front office. Kroenke Sports Charities and the Colorado Rapids are doing great work partnering with Special Olympics Colorado in creating a program that is a win for our community.
Congratulations to the team on a successful trip to Portland in so many ways. We look forward to our match with Seattle on Saturday, October 5th. Please come support the program and cheer on the Rapids Unified team!
the Rapids Special Olympics team headed to Portland, Oregon to tour the city and play against the Portland Timbers Special Olympics team. The day started with a tour of the adidas USA Headquarters and adidas Village with the Rapids adidas representative, Zola Short. The athletes toured the facilities and then tested out some new adidas equipment that helps improve your shot during a mini-camp.
The Rapids and Special Olympics Colorado welcomed FC Dallas and Special Olympics Texas to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for a couple matches Saturday night.
Athletes from both Special Olympics teams enjoyed the Rapids-FC Dallas match from a suite before heading down to prepare for their own battle. Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens has attended all of the Special Olympics practices and was on hand Saturday night to help Morgan Butler get prepared for her goalkeeping duties.
Before the match kicked off, teams traded gifts with one another and then took to the field for some fun.
At halftime the score was tied one-to-one and the Special Olympics Texas team took the lead in the second half. Thanks to forward Mackenzie Beauvais-Nikl, who scored a late goal, the Rapids SOCO squad was able to pull a 2-2 draw. After the match, athletes from both teams were presented with medals.
The Rapids Special Olympics Colorado Unified team will head to Portland this weekend to take on the Portland Special Olympics Team at halftime of the Rapids-Timbers Reserve League match on Saturday.
My name is Azur Ewari, and I am a Unified Partner on the Rapids Special Olympics Unified Soccer team. Last night, had a pizza party where we had the opportunity to meet some of the people on the Dallas team. At first people were a little hesitant to mingle but then Sam, our captain, decided to break the ice and sat at the other team’s table and everyone else just sort of followed his example.
When we were finished with pizza we went to the Nuggets practice court and shot some hoops there for a little bit. Then we played some mini games of basketball and soccer where we mixed teams so that both had Colorado and Texas players. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to get to know some of the people on the other team.
This is my first year on the Rapids Unified team. Meeting new people has been the best by far. My teammates, our coaches, the Rapids players, and the people that run the program – everyone has been very nice in welcoming us on the team. The biggest thing that I have learned is not to be shy and to not be afraid to meet new people and try new things.
Saturday night will be very exciting when we play following the Rapids vs. FC Dallas game. I am most looking forward to showing what we have learned and playing another team.
My name is Sam Villela and I play on the Rapids Special Olympics Unified soccer team. I've learned a lot since we started playing together. I've improved my defense, but also my offense. I like defense better, but it is important that I learn both to play on this team. The best part of playing with this group is practicing teamwork.
Monday at practice, we scrimmaged some of the coaches and staff, including Rapids players Drew Moor, Chris Klute and Matt Pickens. It was a good experience to play with professionals because it helped us to play even better. It helps us know that even if the team we face is older or more experienced than us, we can still compete.
At halftime of the scrimmage, my coaches announced that I would be the team captain. Drew Moor, who is the captain of the Rapids, gave me a captain arm band. I was shocked and happy at the same time. It has been a long time since I have been a leader of a group and I'm excited. I will tell my team to work hard and be professional. Even if we lose, we are still a team and we are still winners.
I'm excited for the match this Saturday against Special Olympics Texas. I was born in Dallas, so I look forward to facing my hometown. I know I can't be shy in front of the crowd at the stadium. I will show my confidence so my team plays the same way.
By Aspen DeField
Monday was our last official practice before all of the Denver and Portland festivities. It was an evening of scrimmaging, naming the team captain, and showing off our soccer moves to the Rapids players.
During the coaches versus athletes scrimmage, athletes had the chance to show up their coaches and others from the Rapids organization and Kroenke sports. While it’s always fun to score a goal and steal the ball from another player, they seemed to particularly enjoy scoring on us and stealing the ball from the Rapids players. Not only did they get to play against the professionals, they also got to beat them! Our goalie, Morgan, was given some personal training time and in-game advice from Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens. It was a great opportunity to have fun while working on their teamwork and game strategy, and take advantage of the professional advice and talents.
During halftime of the scrimmage, our team captain was named. Sam Villela, a first year player on the team, was presented with the captain band and some words of wisdom from Rapids captain Drew Moor. Sam was very pleased to have earned the role of captain, and his teammates and onlookers gave a round of applause. He provided a perfect captain-to-captain pose for the photographer!
The second half of the scrimmage included some great scoring moments, and the addition of Rapids player Chris Klute to the coaches’ team. While the athletes and Unified partners had their share of goal scoring, the coaches’ team pulled it out in the end during the “last goal wins” final moments of the scrimmage.
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!
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.
CLICK HERE to check out the photos from the first day of training and come back for more updates before and after each match.