USA Games Bios
MEET THE ILLINOIS TEAM & SUPPORT THEIR DREAMS TODAY
Special Olympics Illinois is proud to announce that 45 athletes, 4 Unified Partners and 13 coaches will be representing the Illinois at the 2018 USA Games, being held July 1-6, 2018, in Seattle, Washington!
- Malory Marvin (District 128)
- Shannon West (SRS of NLC Round Lake)
Youth Leadership Experience
- Emily De Angelo
- Abby Widd
Special Olympics North America National Tennis Championship
The 2017 Tournament was held from, October 19-22. Athletes from around the United States competed in all skill levels as well as Unified divisions. Illinois sent a group of athletes to experience this fantastic event.
Through the trip, the team has bonded even more and we were able to experience quality competition that they otherwise would not be able to find. Our athletes have really improved their skills through this experience. In fact, five of them have been rated in the Top 32 of all US Special Olympics tennis players for the past several years. Plus, Matt and Bob have been chosen to represent Illinois as the Unified Doubles team in the 2018 Special Olympics National Games next July in Seattle.
- Ryan won Gold in his singles division and won the Sportsmanship Award for the tournament.
- Brent took Bronze in his Singles division and, with Ryan as his partner, took Silver in traditional doubles even though they had never even had the chance to practice together.
- Nick won Gold in both singles and unified doubles in the highest division (5+). He was also chosen to play with the Pros who did an exhibition at Opening Ceremonies.
- The luck of the draw meant that Matt and Nick met for the championship in the top division, with Matt taking Silver.
- Ryan was presented with a new racquet as the prize for his Sportsmanship Award.
- Justin took part in the yoga portion of the Healthy Athletes program. He won Bronze in his singles division and along with his partner, took the Gold in Unified Doubles.
- Kevin took Silver in his singles division and, with a partner, Jerry Kahsen, took Gold in his Unified Doubles division.
- Ellen took Bronze in her Singles division and Bronze in Unified Doubles with her dad, Tom.
- Matt and Nick met again in the championship for the top Unified Doubles division. Nick and his partner, Milan, bested Matt and his partner, Bob, in a tight match with some exceptional shot-making.
Caroline Colianne, Special Olympics Illinois Global Messenger and 2014 USA Games Athlete
Evanston Special Recreation Association – 2017 Special Olympics Illinois State Basketball
By contributing writer Kelley Milligan
Evanston resident Caroline Colianne has a love for sports that began when she joined the track team. After that, she started playing all of the sports that she could until finally learning about Special Olympics. Since her introduction to the organization, she has become a Global Messenger and an athlete in swimming, track, basketball, and powerlifting.
Before joining Special Olympics, Colianne had never learned to swim. Her career on the aquatics team began in 2006 and since then she has become a fantastic swimmer. She works at a children’s center in Evanston as a swim assistant and swimming instructor, and even went to the Special Olympics USA Games for swimming in 2014.
Along with swimming, Colianne has been playing basketball under her coach Leonard Woodson with Evanston Special Recreation for Special Olympics Illinois since 2006. When asked what got her into basketball, Colianne responded, “I just liked watching the game and thought it would be fun to play!”
Although the team started out as an even split co-ed team, she is now the only female athlete on a seven-person team. Defense is her strength but she plays as a guard as well. According to Colianne, “Playing with all guys is ok, but I do feel intimidated at times. When that happens, I just take a second and tell myself, ‘No, I can be as good as them!’ and then I push forward.”
The basketball court isn’t the only place where Caroline feels outnumbered as she is also involved in power-lifting. Her personal best is a 205 pound deadlift and she feels that the strength training helps with her basketball skills.
As a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics, Colianne has given two speeches. One of her speeches served as the kick-off for the Illinois Lottery Game at Soldier Field and the other was at school for a group of 3rd graders. She said that being an athlete has given her a lot more confidence and plays a large part in her being able to speak in public.
Colianne has become a large contender in the games and even though she plays traditionally male-dominated sports, she doesn’t let that stop her. If you look up “girl power” in the dictionary, you may find the name Caroline Colianne next to it.
2 Illinois Softball Teams Compete at SONA Invitational Tournament
Special Olympics Illinois was represented by 26 athletes and Unified partners on two softball teams at the 2016 Special Olympics North America Softball Invitational Tournament Aug. 18-21 in Roanoke, Va.
Representing Illinois were:
- Tri-County Unified of Peoria (pictured above) – Athletes and Partners: Chad Broomfield, Darren Darr, Thomas Dault, Bernard Harms, Logan Heberer, Stephen Knipmeyer, Steve Lawson, Steven Lawson, John McLaughlin, Robert Reese, Ryan Stear, Larry Woods and Christopher Worden; Coaches: William Hopkins, Victoria Kipmeyer, Barbara Needham and Larry Needham; 2nd place
- Wolverines from Pathway Services Wolverines of Jacksonville (pictured below) – Athletes: Tim Beals, Chad Bollinger, Kevin Bush, Gary Crawley, Willis Dickey, Sammy Flagg, Willis Grosclaude, John Henderson, Vincent Lobby, Jesse Mattern, Willie Mayes, Tony Rouleau and Nick Wedeking; Coaches: Doug Binkley, Michelle Larkin and Richard Larkin, Erin Mattes; 4th place
About 450 Special Olympics athletes and 100 coaches representing 32 teams from across the United States and Canada competed. Teams were from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin. Competition included both traditional Special Olympics teams and Special Olympics Unified Sports teams (people with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team).
The tournament was made possible by Presenting Sponsor Moose International and lead sponsors ASA/USA Softball, Coca-Cola and Special Olympics Virginia, Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Salem, the City of Roanoke and Botetourt County.
SOILL Coach Recognized as Finalist for National Award
Jennifer Hitt of Edwardsville, head coach of the Bellveille PTOEC gymnastics team, was recently recognized as a finalist for the annual Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year Award.
The Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year Award was established in the late 1980s and is given annually to an active, certified Special Olympics coach who has met several criteria, particularly having made a significant and demonstrable impact on local Special Olympics Program and their community. There are more than 120,000 coaches within Special Olympics North America providing instruction and competition in more than 32 sports. The impressive scope and contributions of all those coaches puts the momentousness of this award into perspective.
Hitt has been involved with Special Olympics Illinois for 16 years. She initiated special needs gymnastics classes at the World Class Gymnastics Center in Belleville in 1998 and formed a Special Olympics team the following year. Her program has expanded every year since. Hitt helps facilitate the District Gymnastics Competition in Southern Illinois. The event is held at World Class Gymnastics and her coaches, staff and elite gymnasts serve in all volunteer roles. Year after year, she ensures all needs are fulfilled, leading to a quality competition for all athletes.
The past two years have been especially busy as Hitt has represented Special Olympics Illinois and Special Olympics USA at the highest level. In 2014, Hitt served as head coach for Team Illinois’ gymnastics team. Her outstanding work with this team led her to be selected as an Assistant Coach for Team USA’s Gymnastics Team for the 2015 World Summer Games in LA this past summer.
“I’m honored to be recognized for the Coach of the Year award and would like to thank all of my wonderful athletes and fellow coaches who have inspired me along this journey!” said Hitt.
Hitt’s passion and energy for the mission of Special Olympics is infectious. The positive impact she has on her athletes, training facility and sport is wide reaching. We are proud to call her one of our own and consider her completely deserving of being selected a finalist. Congrats Jennifer!