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.
Unified Sports Partner
Ryan is a 20 year old player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Ryan has been playing soccer with Special Olympics Colorado for one year and usually plays either forward or mid fielder. Ryan had already been connected to soccer before joining Special Olympics Colorado. His sister Melissa had played in the Junior Olympics; Ryan enjoyed watching her play and now he has the chance to help others and play some soccer as well. Ryan’s passion however has been basketball. He has played basketball for several years. He played for George Washington High School and also played basketball at Colorado State University.
Ryan got involved with Special Olympics Colorado when Denver Parks and Rec contacted him his sophomore year of high school with an opportunity to help with Special Olympics Basketball. He loved the atmosphere and the people working with Special Olympics Colorado and has been helping out ever since.
Ryan’s favorite Rapids player is Tony Cascio. He is excited to get to meet him in Seattle. He hears that Seattle is “very green and very wet, but is very beautiful too”. Ryan is most looking forward to making a difference. He recognizes that this is a great experience for all of the athletes not just on the field, but off the field as well.
Andie is a 21 year old player for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. Andie has been playing soccer off and on since she was 10 years old. She enjoys playing every position and has been playing soccer with Special Olympics Colorado for 2 years. Her favorite sports are swimming and skiing though she also enjoys playing volleyball and soccer.
Andie began playing basketball with Special Olympics Colorado when she was 11 and then added swimming, skiing, volleyball and soccer into her schedule. At Denver South High School she competed on the varsity swimming team for all 4 years and is now continuing to stay in sports with Special Olympics Colorado.
Andie’s favorite player on the Colorado Rapids soccer team is Conor Casey. Andie’s brother played soccer with Conor when he was younger and now Andie is excited for her opportunity to play soccer with Conor. She is excited to experience the city of Seattle and hopes to see her cousin who lives in the area.
Coach and Chaperone - Special Olympics Colorado All-Star Team
Aspen is a 30 year old coach for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. She is from Farmington, New Mexico and attended New Mexico State University. Aspen enjoys playing soccer, bicycling, watching sports and traveling.
Aspen says that she is proud to be a part of this team and is “humbled by the opportunities and generosity being shown to us. The athletes work very hard not only to be good soccer players, but to be good people and demonstrate sportsmanship, positive attitudes and teamwork at all times. As a coach, it challenges me to be a model for them in these areas, and I always learn more from them than they do from me”.
Coach and Chaperone - Special Olympcs Colorado All-Star Team
Ilima is a 36 year old coach for the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids Soccer Team. She is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended Colorado State and the University of Colorado, Denver. Ilima enjoys cooking and knitting as well as playing soccer.
Ilima says that this team is extremely important to her and that she has learned a lot from the athletes. She says “the longer I coach in Special Olympics the more I learn about what it takes to make a strong team that truly plays together to overcome any barriers they might face and come out ahead. We don’t always win, but we leave the field after every game knowing we each tried our best, supported our teammates, and had fun”. She is excited and grateful for the opportunity to travel to Seattle and hopes her team has a positive and enjoyable experience.