Special Olympics Team USA training camp

By Amanda Church

It is hard to put into words how much fun all the Special Olympics athletes had at training camp in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getting great tips from World Games coaches, giving us things to think about as we move forward training for next summer’s 2015 Special Olympics World Games in LA. We also got the opportunity to see a Pacer’s Scrimmage, and take a group photo of all the Team USA Members that will be competing in all the sports at World Games in 2015.

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Special Olympics Massachusetts athlete Amanda Church trains for swimming in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

We got a surprise as well from Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, who not only got in a picture with us, but also had a few nice words of encouragement to Special Olympics Team USA!

The team also had the opportunity to hear from Special Olympics athlete and Global Messenger Andrew Peterson, a young man of 21, that was born with an intellectual disability, because his mom drank while she was pregnant with him. This young man grew up in foster care, later was adopted and at age 13 and got involved in Special Olympics.

He is a Special Olympics track and field athlete from Indiana and is one of the well known Global Messengers in the state of Indiana and beyond. He is so inspiring and even though he slowly spoke one word at a time, he was so inspiring to not just the USA athletes that will be competing at World Games, but to all the staff, including coaches, volunteers and sports management staff.

I had a blast, It was a awesome experience and I learned a lot. I also plan to take all the advice and all the tips that each person I met gave me, whether it was at the pool practicing, or just talking at meal time, or at Team USA meetings.  In closing, best wishes to the Massachusetts athletes that will be representing Team USA, and to all the rest of the USA! USA! USA! USA!

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Michael Cappello – Hall of Fame – Coach

Mike Cappello is an adaptive physical education teacher at the Dartmouth Public Schools and a Special Olympics Massachusetts coach. Twenty three years ago, he started a Special Olympics track and field team. As his students graduated, he also started a “graduates” program. Three years ago, the Dartmouth program added flag football and basketball teams, and Cappello has recruited and mentored new coaches for both of these programs.

Cappello organizes and manages the annual Dartmouth School Day Games each May, where students from Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fall River, and Westport participate in a track and field meet. What started as a meet with roughly 50 Dartmouth students has turned into an event for over 200 students across four different communities.

On October 2nd, Cappello, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.

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Recently, Cappello expanded his roster to start a Unified track program in Dartmouth. Of this new challenge, Mike said, “I’ve never seen my athletes so excited about a competition. With an individual sport like track and field, this taught them the importance of teamwork, something they love and depend on, not only in sports, but in the classroom, at home and in the community”.

Last spring, Dartmouth parents nominated Cappello for the “Live with Kelly and Michael Teacher of the Year” contest. Mike beat out thousands of other teachers to be in the Top 15 semi-finalist category. As part of the nomination, a parent told Kelly and Michael that, “He’s built the confidence of my daughter, and he’s done that for many kids over many years. He’s got the tough love, but he’s got a way about him that he can get kids to do what they need to do without becoming someone less. It comes naturally to him, he just does it because it’s the right thing to do”.

 

 

Stucchi Family – Hall of Fame

The Stucchi Family have been involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts through the Shrewsbury program for 15 years. Son Peter plays on the basketball, soccer and bocce teams as an athlete. His sister Amy and her husband Adam volunteer their time as Unified partners in basketball and fundraise for Special Olympics Massachusetts. Mother and father Debbie and Tim are bocce Unified partners, and Tim is a coach and official for basketball. They have also previously been involved with Special Olympics Colorado. Baby Summer is a bit young, but the family has big plans for her as well.

On October 2nd, the Stucchi family, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.stucchi_family“We started primarily with Peter participating and then Debbie and I got involved as [Unified] partners and then his sister Amy got involved,” said father Tim. “And then we went from partnering to coaching and officiating a little bit, and then Peter was asked to do the global messaging, and then after that both Amy and Adam got involved in fundraising and as partners.”

“Someday Summer will be a partner,” said Debbie of her granddaughter. “She’ll be Peter’s bocce partner.”

 

Bill O’Connell – Hall of Fame – Athlete

Bill O’Connell of Abington, MA has been a Special Olympic Massachusetts athlete for over 40 years. He began his career competing in track and field, has played volleyball, and most recently he has participated in aquatics events, winning a gold and bronze at the 2014 Summer Games. While he enjoys these sports, his true love, and the sport in which he has had the most success and participated the longest, is bowling, where he is the co-captain of the team.

On October 2nd, O’Connell, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.

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Summer Games is one of the highlights of the year for O’Connell. Each year he receives a calendar for Christmas, and that weekend is one of the first things he marks on it. As co-captain of the bowling team, he takes that responsibility very seriously. O’Connell has been an athlete with Cambridge for most of his years, however he recently moved to the South Shore and now will be competing with the Cardinal Cushing program, bringing with him his experience, leadership and hall of fame talent.

Sue Borden – Hall of Fame – Volunteer

Sue Borden has been a Special Olympics Massachusetts volunteer for 15 years. She has been a medical volunteer, registration coordinator, logistical specialist, scorekeeper, sign language interpreter and much more since she started.

On October 2nd, Borden, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.sue_borden

“To me the greatest honor is just to be nominated,” said Borden. But after being nominated five times in total, she admits there’s a special honor this time around for her induction.

When asked to sum up what Special Olympics has meant to her through the years, Borden said, “It’s so neat to see the athletes put everything they have into what they’re doing, whether it’s competing, or the dance — just to watch the joy they get out of living life is just awesome.”

Rebecca Richard – Hall of Fame – Volunteer

Rebecca Richard of Attleboro, MA has been involved with Special Olympics Massachusetts for 10 years. She volunteers as an assistant coach and leads the volunteer event management team each year for the annual Attleboro School Day Games. Rebecca also participates in fundraising events, such as the Polar Plunge.

On October 2nd, Richard, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.

rebecca_richardRichard’s introduction to Special Olympics was through Attleboro School Day Games, an annual Special Olympics competition and interscholastic meet. “I work at Attleboro High School and Attleboro High School has been hosting a school day games for the past 26 years,” said Richard. A teacher approached her needing volunteers for the games. “I was in charge of a volunteer program at the time,” recalls Richard. She supplied the volunteers for the games and with each passing year became more and more involved.

Induction into the Hall of Fame is exciting for Richard, but in the spirit of her volunteerism, she speaks of the honor with warm humility. “I owe my dedication to all the student volunteers that I work with, and so, although I am personally being inducted, I feel like it’s an induction for all the students that I’ve worked with over the past 10 years.”

 

Millett Family – Hall of Fame

The Millett family has been supporting Special Olympics Massachusetts for over 15 years. Mary (mom) volunteers her time and helps with Winter Games. Children John and Becca participate in many of the fundraisers. Son Matt is a Special Olympic athlete who participates in all four sports seasons, is a Special Olympics Global Messenger and is a prior athlete inductee in the Hall of Fame. Son Tom has run in the Boston Marathon for Special Olympics.

On October 2nd, the Millett family, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.

millet_familySpecial Olympics is very much a family affair for Millett’s. “We get to play sports as a family, play on the softball team together, we do the [Polar] Plunge together and we volunteer a lot together,” said Matt Millett.

“He was shy, quite,” said mother Mary of Matt’s prior demeanor before his involvement with Special Olympics. Since then Matt has traveled the world with the organization; personally meeting high profile figures like Special Olympics’ Tim Shriver, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo. “We can’t get him to shut up now,” ribbed his brother Tom.

On the families’ induction: “Speechless, unbelievable, such an honor, to say the least,” said Mary.  Double-inductee Matt joked that he can retire now, though he admits he still has five years left on the Special Olympics Massachusetts Board of Directors.

Post induction, there’s still miles to go for Millett family. “So we’re going to keep playing, keep plunging, keep volunteering and if I can put down the donuts, I’m going to run another marathon,” said Tom.