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.
Friday night was movie night for the Colorado Rapids at Civic Center Park - the second year in which the team has participated in the summer event.
In partnership with the Civic Center Conservancy, the Rapids presented the movie 'Despicable Me' - on a 40-foot screen - as part of Denver's Movies in the Park Series .
But that wasn't all.
The Rapids Academy also hosted a clinic with children from the Big Brothers, Big Sister program.
Defenders Drew Moor, Shane O'Neill, and Brian Mullan all helped out with the clinic, which included 12 matches. The three then signed autographs and hopped on Rapids-branded bcycles at the park, while mascot, Edson the Eagle, played with the kids in the inflatable.
The club also donated 100 tickets to Big Brother, Big Sisters and the street team was handed out tickets, free bcycle ride cards, and Rapids-branded water bottles and scarves.
After Saturday night’s 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy and a short amount of sleep, Rapids staffers participated on Sunday morning in the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon, entering five relay teams in the event. Team Rapids 1 was able to capture the victory in the relay division, and the roughly 30 Rapids employees, friends and family in burgundy enjoyed the early-morning festivities.
Team Rapids 1, who also won the Relay division in 2012, consisted of President Tim Hinchey swimming, Director of Marketing & Fan Development Wayne Brant biking, and Director of Media Relations David Lindholm running. Their time of 1:19:56 was about two minutes ahead of a strong co-ed relay team in second place.
Team Rapids 3 crossed the line in 1:47:07, Rapids 2 in 1:55:23, and Rapids 5 in 2:09:20. Somehow, the running leg for the co-ed Team Rapids 4 did not get counted by the chip timer, though the team was on pace to finish under 1:30:00. Regardless of the final time, everyone enjoyed the event, and Rapids Street Team also handed out prizes and giveaways to many participants. The overall individual winners all collected Rapids tickets as part of their prizes.
The other Rapids employees participating on Sunday included: Senior Premium Sales Executive Jordan Allerding, Chief Revenue Officer David Burke, Premium Sales and Service Manager Makenzie Crow, Ticket Service and Marketing Coordinator Christa Dellebovi, Fundraising Coordinator for Kroenke Sports Charities Heather Garcia, Marketing Coordinator Chelsea Hedrick, Manager of Ticket Sales Emily Kilcoyne, and Rapids Academy Manager Gordon Smith.
Pro athletes have a way of making impressions on youngsters that few others do. It's one of the fun parts of watching kids' reactions after a player appearance - even when it involves books and school.
On Tuesday, July 23, defender Chris Klute and forward Danny Mwanga helped host a soccer clinic for children for the Denver Public Library Summer Reading Program at the Montbello Library branch in Aurora, Colo. After each kid read a book, they were able to participate in the clinic where Klute and Mwanga taught the children different soccer skills. As a reward for completing their books and learning some soccer, the guys then handed out prizes and signed autographs at the end of the clinic.
Some of the best appearances Colorado Rapids players make in the community are the ones where the kids become the stars, not the pros. A little while back Colorado Rapids midfielder Nick LaBrocca and Edson the Eagle attended a unique event where kids in wheel chairs got an opportunity to play soccer. Local station, 9News, was there to capture and share the story of how the Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation started Power Soccer (video above).
According to 9News' report, "power soccer is played with a bumper on the front of the power wheelchair that is used to move the soccer ball. The soccer ball is slightly larger than a standard ball."
"The sport has done so much in my life and become such a key part of my life, and I've seen how it touched so many other people's lives," J.C. Russo, a member of the Team USA power soccer team, told 9News.
Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation (CASF) provides financial support, coaching and mentoring so athletes with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in organized team sports programs. More info here.