’18 Team Missouri: Amanda Koch (From Camp to Seattle and Home Again)

Koch, Amanda_BocceThis is a guest blog post from Special Olympics Missouri athlete Amanda Koch. She is a member of Team Missouri and will travel to compete in bocce at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle. It is in her own words.

First i started at selections camp by making friends. There we got to do fun activities, get to know one another, and interact with them to. Every morning we went for walks. Also got to do training for our sport. We even got to show off our skills.

From that we found out who got selected to represent Team Missouri. The ones who got selected. Had to attend a meeting, practices, and trainings. I had practice twice a week. We had fundraisers to do to raise $3,000. To make it to the national level. For trainings, we had to attend 3 of them. At all of the trainings i have done very well.

At the last trainings we got recognized for our fundraising efforts. While we were there we got our trading pins. Also at the trainings we learned safety, being healthy and staying physically fit. Throughout my training experience i have had a personal trainer. To help me along the way. Now it is time to send off to Seattle. First when got there we had a celebration of team missouri athletes. At the celebration some of us got our hair sprayed and some dancing to. We got to have police officers transport us to the STL airport.

In Seattle, we got to sight see, and take a tour and a cruise. Sunday we had a blast at opening ceremonies. We also had competition throughout the week. Also while we were in seattle. We got celebrate the 4th of July, seen a baseball game, and seen the space needle. We got to attend closing ceremonies. Now Team Missouri is flying home.

Koch 2Koch1

2018 Team Missouri Newsletter: FINAL WRAP-UP

2018 MO Magic eNews header

Final Team Missouri Newsletter

Team MO Magic Newsletter

Now that we’ve all had a chance to catch up on sleep that we missed while we were in Seattle, we wanted to take the opportunity to put everything into one final newsletter for all of our Team Missouri delegates and fans so they didn’t miss anything.

I really appreciate the hard work that you put into your training for Team Missouri.
Coaches, sport managers and staff, I know that you put in a lot of extra time above and beyond the coaching and work duties. All of your training and hard work over the past year resulted in a huge success for your personally and the team as a whole. Everyone did a great job contributing your talents and skills to the team. I’m looking forward to 2022 in Orlando!

All of the photos from the week have been uploaded to Facebook and are in albums separated by the day. If you are looking for full high-resolution photos that you can download and make prints of, please visit our Flickr page.

We wrote A LOT of blog posts during our time in Seattle and they covered a wide range of perspectives from newbies who had never been to a USA Games before to experienced veterans. We had athletes, coaches, staff members and fans all write for us. If you missed any of the blogs, never fear as you can catch up on all of them at our WordPress site.

Some new posts that were written since we sent out the final newsletter from Seattle a couple of weeks ago:

For the first time in Special Olympics Missouri history, we took an athlete-leader with us to a USA Games. Allison D’Agostino of Columbia served as part of the PR team taking photos and videos and telling the stories of our delegates. She was selected from a pool of five other applicants and did a phenomenal job covering Team Missouri. In addition to taking photos, capturing video, writing stories/blogs and editing nightly b-roll clips to send back to media around Missouri, she hosted nightly recap shows where she interviewed a coach and at least one athlete from every sport. If you missed these or want to re-watch any of them, please see below.

Allison also wrote two stories while in Seattle that focused on two different USA Games volunteers who either used to live, or currently live, in Missouri.

She did an amazing job for us all week and we couldn’t be more proud of the work she put in behind the scenes in the last few months as well. She’s a soon-to-be graduate of SOMO’s Athlete Leadership Programs University where athletes can take classes in a variety of subjects (technology, life skills, personal finances, leadership, etc.) and become leaders on their teams and in their communities in a multitide of ways. For more information about ALPs, email Brandon Schatsiek or visit www.SOMO.org/ALPs.

Whether you traveled to Seattle to watch the team or cheered them on from home, we hope that you all took advantage of the Team Missouri mobile app to stay up to date and communicate with one another. We know it’s not a perfect app, but we hope that you found it useful in most situations.

If you did utilize the app, please do us a huge favor and take this quick 5-minute survey on what you liked and didn’t like about it. We want to make sure that if we do this again that it fits your needs regardless if you’re watching in-person or from home. Please complete the survey by Aug. 6.

Sometime before the end of the year, we’d like to get Team Missouri delegates back together for a reunion at our new Training for Life Campus. We don’t have a date yet, but stay tuned for something later this fall.

We have produced numerous videos over the last 12 months from quick spotlight interviews of every delegate to the reaction video to the fun emoji game videos and much, much more. To see all of the videos and stay up to date when we add future videos to our catalog, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

We tried our best to keep up with all the results every day from all of the sports in our nightly newsletters, but we surely missed a few here and there over the course of last week. Below you will find a list of every sport, its delegates and how they fared in Seattle.

Athletics (Track and Field)
Emily Carroll – bronze (100 M walk), silver (standing long jump), sixth place (50 M run), bronze (softball throw)
Brett Harper – fourth place (800 M run), fifth (400 M run), bronze (long jump)
Mark Harris – sixth place (100 M run), seventh place (200 M run), fourth place (shotput)
Shaquana Hobbs – silver (running long jump), sixth place (100 M run), gold (mini javelin), gold (shotput)
Jesse Hodgson – bronze (100 M walk), bronze (softball throw), silver (50 M run), bronze (softball throw)
Lynna Hodgson – silver (running long jump), gold (100 M run), bronze (200 M run), silver (shotput)
Dustin Johnson – seventh place (100 M run), bronze (200 M run), bronze (mini javelin)
Mary McManus – gold (running long jump), gold (200 M run), silver (400 M run)
4×100 M run – Mary McManus, Dustin Johnson, Mark Harris, Brett Harper (fifth)

Basketball – Silver medal

Bobby Bates – sixth place (singles)
Lisa Berryhill – silver (singles)
Matthew Davidson – fourth place (singles)
Colin Garrison – fourth place (singles)
Amanda Koch – bronze (singles)
James Ross – silver (singles)
Jaime Rosso – sixth place (singles)
Rebecca Tincknell – silver (singles)
Doubles – James Ross/Bobby Bates (sixth place), Amanda Koch/Jaime Rosso (fifth place)
Unified Doubles – Kathy Witmeyer/Becca Tincknell (silver), Larry Hughes/Colin Garrison(fourth place), Paul Davidson/Matt Davidson (silver), Marsha Roselli/Lisa Berryhill (bronze)
Unified Teams – James Ross/Larry Hughes/Paul Davidson/Matt Davidson (fifth place), Becca Tincknell/Amanda Koch/Kathy Witmeyer/Marsha Roselli (fourth place)
Traditional Teams – Jaime Rosso/Bobby Bates/Colin Garrison/Lisa Berryhill (silver)

Kayla Brewer – bronze (singles)
Jeremiah Ellis – gold (singles)
Brandon Mynatt – bronze (singles)
Alaina Toliver – gold (singles)
Unified teams: Trey Toliver/Tyler Busken/Jeremiah Ellis/Brandon Mynatt (gold), Amanda Geno/Erica Koenegstein/Alaina Toliver/Kayla Brewer (silver)
Unified doubles: Amanda Geno/Kayla Brewer (gold), Erica Koenegstein/Alaina Toliver(silver), Tyler Busken/Brandon Mynatt (fourth place), Jeremiah Ellis/Trey Toliver (gold)

Thomas Cleek – 4th place in high performance championship division
John Hughes & Michael Garrison (Unified pair) – Silver
Cade Marian & Doug Marian (Unified pair) – Silver
Nick McMullen & Jerry McMullen (Unified pair) – Silver

Timothy Bray – gold (squat), silver (deadlift), participation ribbon (bench press), participation ribbon (combination)
Jody Davis – silver (squat), gold (deadlift), bronze (bench press), silver (combination)
Brandon Mize – silver (bench press), gold (squat, deadlift, combination)
Charlie Phillips – silver (combination), silver (bench press), bronze (deadlift), bronze (squat)

Softball – Silver medal

Devin Bock – participation ribbon (50 M butterfly), gold (50 M freestyle), fourth (50 M backstroke)
Allison Byrd – gold (100 M IM), sixth (400 M freestyle), silver (200 M breaststroke)
Joel Chrouser – silver (100 M IM), bronze (100 M breaststroke), silver (400 M freestyle)
Jessica Grammer – bronze (50 M butterfly), fifth (100 M freestyle), fourth (50 M backstroke)
Curtis Herbold – silver (50 M butterfly), sixth (100 M freestyle), gold (25 M backstroke)
Logan Hulett – fourth place (100 M backstroke), gold (200 M freestyle), gold (100 M butterfly)
Neha Naik – gold (25 M backstroke)
Libby Waddell – silver (200 M freestyle), participation ribbon (200 M IM), silver (100 M butterfly)
4×50 M relay – Jessica Grammer, Neha Naik, Curtis Herbold, Devin Bock (gold)
4×100 M relay – Libby Waddell, Joel Chrouser, Logan Hulett, Ali Byrd (silver)

Lucas Blattel – gold (traditional doubles with Simon Caldwell), silver (singles)
Simon Caldwell – gold (traditional doubles with Lucas Blattel), bronze (singles)
Kristopher Greene – bronze (Unified doubles with Jeremy Clayton), bronze (singles)
Jeremy Clayton, Unified Partner – bronze (Unified doubles with Kris Green)

In case you didn’t hear, the 2022 USA Games are set for Orlando, Fla.! If you or someone you know is interested in trying out for Team Missouri in 2022, remember that they will need to win a gold medal in that sport in 2020 (Outdoor Games) or 2021 (Indoor Games and Summer Games). You then need to apply for and attend the 2021 Selection Camp in June to be considered for the team. For more information on Team Missouri, please email Susan Shaffer.

If you like what you see with MO Magic and would like to continue to support them, please donate now: https://somo.org/2018-usa-games-donations 



Management Team

Susan Shaffer — Head of Delegation

shaffer@somo.org 573-635-1660 or 573-489-4778

Brandon Schatsiek — Public Relations Manager

schatsiek@somo.org 573-635-1660 OR 573-821-4646


Support Staff

Jana Fornelli — GOC/SONA Family Liaison

fornelli@somo.org 417-624-5505

Laurie Shadoan — Fundraising

shadoan@somo.org 913-789-0353

Mandi Ballinger – Sendoff & Fundraising Websites

ballinger@somo.org 913-789-0338




’18 Team Missouri: Josh Buchheit (It’s Over Already?)

Bucheit, Josh_SoftballJosh Buchheit is a softball coach for Team Missouri.

One year ago, the journey to Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympic USA games seemed a long way away. Looking back now, a year ago feels like yesterday. The journey for Team Missouri began with selection camp in June of 2017. During selection camp, rough drafts of teams begin to take shape. In the following weeks athletes, unified partners, and coaches are informed on whether they made the cut to be part of the 2018 Special Olympics Missouri team at the USA games. During the Special Olympic USA Games, Team Missouri represented the Show Me State by competing to the best of their ability, showing great enthusiasm and sportsmanship, while being a model of acceptance and inclusion.

The city of Seattle welcomed Special Olympics with open arms and preached messages of inclusion and acceptance throughout the week. During opening and closing ceremonies, banners spanning the width of the football field were pulled across the stadium; each of the banners had a theme word for the week: strength, acceptance, pride, and empowerment. Athletes from each delegation demonstrated all four of these characteristics consistently, especially MO Magic. It wasn’t until after the games were over that I’ve been able to really reflect on how each of those four words were incorporated in the USA games.

When I think about strength, I think of mental and physical strength these athletes had to have to make it through a year of training and a long week of competing. Their strength training began the week of selection camp and didn’t end until closing ceremonies. Team Missouri was able to reap the benefits of following their yearlong strength and conditioning programs. Team Missouri’s strength, both mental and physical, were on display the entire week during their respective competitions. Mental strength helped get them from selection camp through practices and any setbacks they suffered throughout the year. Being awake and doing activities from 4:30am until 10:00 or 11:00 at night daily took a tremendous amount of strength by athletes, coaches, and partners. Come-from-behind victories and long games also take strength. Physical strength was on display watching the power-lifters dead-lift hundreds of pounds with ease. Physical strength was also displayed each day throughout the week when we walked miles and miles each day to different sporting venues, whether it be to compete or cheer on another Missouri team.

Throughout the week, teams would travel to other venues to cheer on other sports. For example, if softball was done competing in the morning and basketball played in the afternoon softball would go cheer on the basketball team. When your team is battling back and forth with another state and you see fellow Missourians walking into the venue it truly empowers those on the field. Missouri took care of one another the entire week. When your buddies, teammates, and family members from Missouri start the Missouri cheer it gives the team competing a boost of energy and confidence; it empowers them. Missouri not only empowered their own teammates, they empowered the athletes of opposing teams. During a lopsided softball game against Washington, Team Missouri was well ahead of Team Washington early in the game. At the time, I was coaching third base when I hear our very own athletes in the dugout cheering on the opposing pitcher who was noticeably frustrated. It’s important to note that our Missouri athletes did this without being prompted to do so. If that was not enough they began trying to hit the ball to the opposing fielders to generate outs, so Washington could bat again.

Missouri showed pride in the way they won, and even lost. From showing good sportsmanship to keeping their heads held high after a tough loss, Missouri took pride in where they are from and the amount of work it took to get to this point. Pride is something that Missouri takes seriously, and it showed during the 2018 USA games. The games were not all about the medals or even competing. Missouri demonstrated pride in the way they carried themselves, how they appeared to others, and the impressions they left on other delegations. It was evident as a delegation we were proud to be part of Team Missouri. The yearlong adventure prior to the USA games the athletes are working to get in better shape, to raise thousands of dollars, to work on honing their skills to give them the best chance at competing on the national level. It’s easy to see why Team Missouri takes so much pride in where they come from.

Although Missouri was well represented in Seattle, in the end it’s more about Special Olympics as a whole. It’s about showing the world that although these athletes are unique they are still people and have the same abilities as everyone else does. The big picture is not only accepting each other for our differences but embracing them. The city of Seattle and the thousands upon thousands of volunteers from all over the US provided a great start to the inclusion revolution. As community members it’s our jobs to be the change. We don’t have to be on a national stage to show acceptance, it starts with our local area. In closing, remember the themes of the 2018 Special Olympics USA games, ‘choose to include’ and ‘rise with us.’

’18 Team Missouri: Allison D’Agostino (Healthy Athletes and Wrapping Up A Great Week)

D'Agostino, Allison_StaffThese posts come from our first-ever athlete-leader PR assistant, Allison D’Agostino. They were originally posted on her personal blog and re-posted here with her permission. They are unedited.

Special Olympics is not all about competing. With so many states, and so many countries, you’d be surprised how many people there are who have intellectual disabilities. I’d say at least 15% of those people are an athlete in Special Olympics. And because they have disabilities, well, with public judgment, they most likely don’t have enough money to pay for all their medical expenses, or even find out what troubles their physical ailments.

Special Olympics has something called Healthy Athletes. This event happens with every state, nationals, and possibly world competition. There are multiple stations athletes can attend. Today, I only went to two out of seven.

For the USA Games, it almost seems impossible to check every single athlete here. It’d be a miracle.

The two I attended were Opening Eyes and Health Promotion. My boss kinda insisted on the Opening Eyes, considering he saw me squinting last night at the laptop. I couldn’t read the tiny numbers on each clip! Haha. I was going to go anyway, since it had been a couple years I last saw my optometrist.

The Health Promotion was an absolute blast. I think it would’ve been even better if I wasn’t rudely pulled out of the location by this “nice lady.” The reason she insisted I return to the registration is because my identification number was to someone else. That does somewhat make sense, considering they couldn’t find my name attached to it in their database.

The next thing she did, and this was unnecessary, was take my Healthy Athlete passport, wrote my real ident number, and even wrote my name on the pledge raffle. I wasn’t even going to enter it. The whole situation was unnecessary. Both places I went to, I told them in advance to look up my name instead of the number.

It’s all good. I’m fine. I don’t hold a grudge… most of the time.

The last thing scheduled today was the closing ceremony. I didn’t even pay attention when certain people took down the Special Olympics flag and blew out the flame. I was having too much fun with my fellow athletes. I think half the time a good friend and I talked about Power Rangers, and this was after I saw the Mighty Morphin’ lightning bolt tattoed on his calf. Awesome! I totally look forward to getting a tattoo. Even my boss has one – maybe two.

Speaking of my boss, he interviewed a lot of our athletes there. I managed to convince my Power Ranger bud to talk about Brandon, and also flash bomb the next interview. Then I flash bombed the next interview, but louder and more aware. If Brandon didn’t notice, he certainly will when he checks his footage. HAHA! Josh and I could not stop laughing.

This week in Seattle is definitely unforgettable. I don’t want to forget anything. I had so much fun. I wish we had more time, so we could sight-see all the places we – I – wanted to go. Oh, well. Maybe that can be my next plane trip with my mom. Haha.

’18 Team Missouri: Fans in the Stands

Tyler, Linda_BowlingThis post was written by SOMO volunteer Linda Tyler, who traveled to the USA Games to watch and cheer on all of her friends.

What an amazing week we had in Seattle for USA Games 2018! April, Jeanie, Sarah, and I had a fantastic week cheering on Team Missouri! My best friend Gina from Reno, NV came up to hang out with us for a few days as well. We started by going to the send off party for the St. Louis group and helped with registration of the athletes and watched the presentation. Then we were off to the airport. We were on the same flight as the team which was pretty fun because we got to see the team’s excitement.

We had a great first full day in Seattle on Saturday! We went and picked up our credentials, learned how to get everywhere on the light rail, walked around the market, went to the gum wall, went on a boat cruise, went to dinner at a restaurant where the movie Sleepless In Seattle had parts filmed in, got cupcakes, and made it back to the hotel for the night! We were all ready for bed so we can start again early tomorrow morning.

We had another awesome day on Sunday.  We went to the fan zone, then opening ceremonies, then dinner at a Mexican restaurant. After dinner we went up in the Space Needle. Then we rode the monorail back to the light rail station to get back to the hotel.

We had to get up really early Monday to figure out how to get to softball on the public bus system. Monday was a very busy but fun day. We left the hotel by 6:30 am and didn’t get back until 10:30pm! We went and watched softball game 1 then went to watch swimming for a little while.  After that we went back to softball for game 2. After the softball games were over we headed back to the University of Washington to watch some bocce, a basketball game, and some of the athletics awards. We really learned all the interesting public transportation options today, we did pretty much every type of them!

On Tuesday, we started our day watching athletics, then we went over to bocce for a little while, then went to watch the basketball team play. After the basketball game we headed back to bocce for a little while, then went to more athletics awards. The last thing we did on Tuesday was we went to watch some powerlifting. We had a great time cheering on Charlie from Team Missouri!

Wednesday was another very busy and fun day. We started the day by going to watch our bowling teams complete in Unified Teams, then we heading to athletics, then we went to watch some tennis. After we were done with tennis, we went to dinner in University Village, which was a really cool place close to campus with a lot of shops and restaurants. After dinner we went back to campus for the 4th of July party with our team. On the way back to our hotel, we got to see some fireworks.

On Thursday, we started our day at softball, then we went over to swimming, then back to softball, then back to swimming. After swimming, we were trying to make it to Seattle University at the championship game for basketball. There was so much traffic so we didn’t think we would make it but then found out the game so over an hour late so we made it to basketball before the game had started. After the game we went back to University Village to eat dinner and finally got some very yummy chocolate from Frans! Third time’s a charm, we tried going to Frans two other days prior and both times they had just closed 2 to 5 minutes prior to us getting there. After dinner, we went and said some goodbyes to our team since Jeanie, Sarah, and I had to leave for the airport Friday morning.

We had such a great time this week cheering on Team Missouri. We made it to 8 of our 9 sports at least once this week if not 2 or 3 times. Sorry to the golf team for not making it out to see you! All the athletes did a great job this week! I think we got to experience almost every type of transportation this week from buses, lyft’s, uber, light rail, amtrak, monorail, and charter buses. We really learned every way to get from venue to venue. We had a amazing time and loved being fans to cheer on Team Missouri!


’18 Team Missouri: Rachel Hanson (Final posts of USA Games)

Antal, RachelClosing the Space Needle
Last full day of the games here in Seattle. It is very bittersweet. I’m of course ready to get home and see my husband but this is also one of the best weeks ever. There is no experience like that USA Games. This morning started out with swimming. I made sure to get there early to catch a bus because the venue is 45 minutes away. It took us an hour and a half almost to get there. Unfortunately I didn’t make it in time to watch the swimmers to get their awards. They started out the morning with a parade of volunteer which was really neat. Then they played some music to get the athletes and crowd excited. Everyone did the YMCA and I mean everyone in that Aquatic Center. This one official did it and he got really into it. Our first swimmers were the 4 x 100 medley relay. They finished 4th. Devin swam the 50m backstroke and got 2nd. Jessica swam the 50m backstroke as well. Curtis swam the 25m breaststroke. After swimming, I was going to grab the bus to head back to the dorm but I guess there was an accident on the interstate so a bus was going to be 80 minutes. I went back inside and got a pretzel with cheese to make sure I would have some lunch. The bus came a little while later. Thankfully not 80 minutes later.

I ran by the dining hall quick and got a cup full of strawberries and headed over to the ball park stadium for tennis awards. I made it in time. It was getting pretty warm by that point and sitting on the astroterf wasn’t very comfortable. The boys got their awards and were on cloud 9. I headed back to the dorm and started getting my stuff packed up to leave in the morning. We had to eat early before we left for closing ceremonies. We had a quick coaches meeting. Then we went in front of the dorm to wait for the buses to take us to closing ceremonies.

The closing ceremonies were at a park near the space needle and right next to the water. It was really cool. Everyine began their trading frenzy. On the last day, you can trade whatever wardrobe you dont want to keep. I decided to trade one of my polos. I found Hawaii and was able to trade for a bright green shirt. I was pretty excited. We did lots of pin trading. The Amazon band played. The flag was passed to Florida since theyre the host of the next USA Games in 2022. It was very casual and people just got to walk around and hang out. We. Took a group photo in front of the big rise with us letters. One more show me show me show me. Then we headed back to campus. I got started on my last work of the games. It’s been a blast!

Last post of the games
I can’t believe this is my last post of the games. The time went so quick but at the same time, I felt like we really got to enjoy it. The KC crew was up and ready at the bus by 7 a.m. The STL crew though didn’t have to be ready to leave until 9. I got up and finished packing. Then I went down and ate breakfast with the people who were left. Definitely a lot calmer than it had been all week. After breakfast, we started carrying bags out to wait for the bus. It came and we loaded to head to the airport. At the airport, they had a specific line for us to go through which made it go faster. I didn’t have to bring the big camera bag because it went back with Brandon so I got to go through security a little bit faster this time. I got some Starbucks once we got to our seating area. I had to use the discount once last time. I got a scone so that I would have something to eat since our flight was leaving during lunch time. It was finally time to board and we got to get on first. I started feeling sick so I was really worried it was going to be a long flight. I fell asleep for a bit and when I woke up, I was feeling way better. I watched a movie the rest of the way and feel back asleep occasionally. Everyone was more than ready to get off once we landed. The airlines welcomed us home and we did one more Show Me, Show Me, Show Me cheer. When we got off the plane, we headed to baggage claim. Before we even got there, we could hear our cheer. A good number of family and friends awaited us. I ran to Derrick once I saw him. The coaches and I helped everyone get their bags. Then we headed for home. We stopped and some delicious Fazolis. On the drive home, fireworks were going off all over the place. Made for a pretty drive. We made it home about 11 p.m. Luna greeted me then gave me the cold shoulder to make up for being gone for so long. I suppose that is fair haha. It feels so great to be home.

Here are my top 10 moments from the games:

1. Getting to walk to the stadium with all the volunteers lined up on the sides cheering for us.

2. Riding in a line of police cars to the airport and having the interstate shut down for us.

3. Seattle’s weather. So beautiful and hardly any humidity.

4. Getting to see the Space Needle the rest of city in our view almost every day.

5. Watching the athletes get their medals and seeing their expressions was priceless.

6. Getting to be on ESPN, even if it was only for a few seconds.

7. Getting to meet Detlef Schrempf and Gary Payton, NBA legends!

8. Getting to take a cruise of the harbor with the entire team.

9. Watching Missouri play vs Alaska in the gold medal Basketball game. So much support and sportsmanship.

10. Watching the athletes have the time of their lives every second of every day. They made memories to last a lifetime.

It was the best time and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I hope you enjoyed following along with me this week!

’18 Team Missouri: Lynna Hodgson (Final Post from USA Games)

These posts come from track and field athlete Lynna Hodgson. They were originally posted on her personal blog and re-posted here with her permission. They are unedited.

Hodgson, Lynna_Track

Ok WOW! What a great week I just experienced, not only I had some laughs (will talk about it later) but I also surprised myself, and I watched my other teammates on the athletes team, saw how they grew in a year!

First thing first, What I been doing since I got home from the games, I tried to sleep in the first morning I returned, that didn’t happen! I woke up at 7am! That wasn’t in my plans. So I decided to get ahead start on the laundry. I also unpacked my pack pack and my suitcase, let me tell you…that was SO much fun….NOT! It’s still in my room, on the floor! I guess I need to work on that, one job at a time! I also showed my medals off at my grandma’s. Jesse didn’t bring them to my grandma’s. I also showed them to my neighbor! She was SO shocked how big there were! Believe it or not, I was too when I saw them first! I was like….OH MY GOSH! The last past two days I been sorting my state pins I traded with other states, and I finally figured out that I’m missing only 4 pins, I think that’s pretty good for my first time. I’m missing Utah, Southern California, District of Columbia (that was a hard one) and  Georgia.
My thoughts of the USA games:
So when the team (Kansas City group) got on the plane, I had butterflies in my stomach, it wasn’t because of the plane ride, it was because, well I get nervous when I compete, I wish I didn’t. And if. I get nervous I won’t perform the best. So that’s why I was nervous on the plane. My goal was to show myself and my state, what I can do, and what I can accomplish! And that’s what I did! Before I competed in my events, I took deep breaths (couple of them), say in my head (that I can do it), (and this is what I’ve been training for a year for) and that helped me a lot! Plus my coaches gave me right words I was looking for. The competition was even match. I felt really good about that. The Opening Ceremony and the Closing Ceremony was great, great music! The only thing I didn’t like it was a big crowd. It was too much for me, but I think I handled it pretty well. It was really nice to meet other athletes from each state. I even became friends with some!
After the USA games:
When we aboard the plane to Kansas City, I was SO tired, but I didn’t sleep on the plane, my brother did. I slept on the bus. When we got off the plane, I was so shocked how many people I saw that cheered for us! That was awesome! I was so happy that I saw my aunt and my little cousin. Went to claim our bags, they were a lot of bags! Helped to get other bags, and found Jesse’s and mine. Said goodbye to everyone, I tried really hard not to cry, but I felt sad, but I know I’ll see them at State Competitions. I will definitely miss the monthly meetings and socialize with these great group of people, not just the athletes but the coaches as well. On our way home, I saw a van parked in our property, it has welcomed sign, that was SO awesome!
My goals after USA games:
I’ve decided to make goals for myself, I really think this was motivate me, I decided to keep working out and eating healthy, still doing blogs posts, keep in touch of my team MO 2018 family.
Top 5 highlights of the week of the USA games:
1. Won GOLD in my 100 meter run
2. When Brett scared the coaches and me (we were having a race, who would get on our floor first, us or Brett, we took the elevator).
3. Beating all of my scores of my events
4. Trading pins with every state (almost every state)
5. Experienced the best time of my life, I will never forget it!
Thank You’s:
I would like to say a BIG thank you to all of my family, friends, and my local and USA games coaches, for giving me this chance and supporting me in the past year.
And a BIG thank you to the Specail Olympics Missouri staff, without you, and this organization I wouldn’t have experienced this great journey, and having faith in me and believing in me.
I will continue to train and aim for World Games one day, maybe one day I can go, then my dreams will be fulfilled!
7-6-18 Getting Awards/ Closing Ceremonies
So we are getting our last awards today, I’m getting my bronze in the 200 meter run, then later today we have the opening ceremony! The music was fantastic! It was at a park like. There were a lot of people there! Helped Jesse find more state pins! Went back to our dorm, and I needed help with packing, went to bed! What a long day it was! But very fun!
7-7-18 Departure from Seattle to KCI

Woke up this morning around 6am, woke up and went to breakfast, came up to our rooms after breakfast and got our belongs, said goodbye to coach Curt, Coach Emily, and Emily (athlete). Got on the bus and go to the airport, I slept on the bus! I forgot to take my anxiety med for the security part, but I think I handled it pretty well!  Waited for our plane. I wanted to sleep but I couldn’t, but Jesse did! Took some awesome pics of the clouds, they look like cotton balls lol. The plane trip was almost 3hrs. Found out that athlete (Ty) was moving to Wyoming, So that was a little shock for me, but I said goodbye to him.

Ok I got home yesterday, in the early evening, when we got off the plane, we had a huge crowd of people to welcome us! What a treat that was!! Got our luggage and said our goodbyes, and my granddaddy, aunt and my cousin picked us up and having dinner at my grandmas. When we passed our hose, there was a sign saying welcome home on their van. That was neat! For dinner we have ribs, salad, pasta salad. Went home and unpacked, Henry was so happy to see me! Went to bed, I was really tired!

2018 Team Missouri Newsletter: Day 5 (FINAL) of Competition


July 6, 2018

Team MO Magic Newsletter

As always, be sure to check out our Facebook and Flickr pages where you can view all of the photos we take throughout the week. Also, follow us on our social media channels (links at the bottom of this newsletter). If you like what you see with MO Magic and would like to continue to support them, please donate now: https://somo.org/2018-usa-games-donations 

Below you will find a short recap of each team for the day. Friday was the final day of competition for our athletes. Most competition wrapped up on Thursday and those athletes received their awards on Friday.

Jody Davis and Brandon Mize had to wait until the final day of the week to compete, but in the end they still put on a great show. Jody started the morning off by winning a silver medal in the squat and followed that up with a gold in deadlift, a bronze in the bench press and another silver in the overall combination. She set two new personal records (squat and benchpress).

Brandon also set two new personal records today (squat and deadlift) and won three golds (deadlift, squat and combination) and one silver (bench press). He broke 507 total kg, which is his best ever in a competition.

The swimmers were one of the few groups of athletes who didn’t get a break this week, spending every single day at the venue. In addition to a handful of the athletes receiving their awards, the following competed for the final time on Friday:

  • The 4×100 M relay (Libby Waddell, Joel Chrouser, Logan Hulett and Ali Byrd) won silver
  • Devin Bock, in the 50 M backstroke, was awarded 4th place
  • Jessica Grammer, also in the 50 M backstroke, was awarded 4th place
  • Curtis Herbold, in the 25 M breaststroke, won gold

Singles competition ended on Friday for Lucas Blattel and Kris Greene. Lucas won a silver medal and Kris won a bronze medal. Coach Ashley Wurst said this was the best she’s ever seen Lucas play. “He had a lot of consistent shots and made the right adjustments we’ve been working on all week,” she said. For Kris, she said that, “He hit some beautiful ground strokes and had lots of long ralleys. He showed improvement all week.”

The section below shows which delegates have been writing blogs for us. These are new blogs written on Friday night to recap that day and previous day’s activities. To view all blogs written earlier this week, visit our WordPress site.

With the addition of an athlete-leader on our Team Missouri staff, we wanted to utilize Allison’s skillset and try something new. So we’re excited to announce Allison’s FIFTH recap show, which you can view here. On Friday night, she catches up with all of the sports we’ve missed during the week: golf, powerlifting, softball and tennis.

We want to thank everyone who followed Team Missouri this past week. It truly was a phenomenal experience and we couldn’t have done it without the support of those who came to cheer us on as well as those who cheered from afar.

We will send out another FINAL newsletter or two with some last tidbits of information here and there. As your athletes come back home, let us know if you have any other stories that we missed or if you want to write a blog about your experience either in Seattle as a delgate or a fan.


Whether you will watch Team Missouri athletes compete in Seattle or you just want to follow their progress from afar, the Team Missouri mobile app has features to enhance your experience cheering them on:

  • Schedules
  • Newsletters/updates on daily competitions
  • Maps/directions
  • Communicate with other parents/coaches
  • Photo gallery
  • Alerts from SOMO

Check out this video tutorial on downloading and using the app.

There are two ways to download our app:

  1. Open the app store on your mobile device and search ‘Whova.’ Once Whova is downloaded, open that app and search ‘Team Missouri’ or ‘USA Games’ and select ‘2018 USA Games: Team Missouri’ and you’re good to go.
  2. Scan the QR code in the poster below to take you directly there

We will also be sending out nightly newsletters updating you on the progress of Team Missouri. Those newsletters will be emailed AND posted to the mobile app. If you want to receive the newsletters, but don’t want to sign up for the mobile app, please click here (if you received this email, you’re already signed up). The best way to stay up-to-date as competitions are going on, however, is to download the app and receive real-time alerts from Seattle!

We are still working on adding a few things here and there, so make sure you check back in near the end of June to get the full experience.

Whova 2018 Team Mo app




Management Team

Susan Shaffer — Head of Delegation

shaffer@somo.org 573-635-1660 or 573-489-4778


Brandon Schatsiek — Public Relations Manager

schatsiek@somo.org 573-635-1660 OR 573-821-4646


Support Staff

Jana Fornelli — GOC/SONA Family Liaison

fornelli@somo.org 417-624-5505


Laurie Shadoan — Fundraising

shadoan@somo.org 913-789-0353


Mandi Ballinger – Sendoff & Fundraising Websites

ballinger@somo.org 913-789-0338





’18 Team Missouri: Lynna Hodgson (FINAL Day of Competition)

These posts come from track and field athlete Lynna Hodgson. They were originally posted on her personal blog and re-posted here with her permission. They are unedited.

So I woke up at 5:30am. Today Shaquana and I compete in shot put. That’s our last event for the whole games. The relay competes today. I’m excited to watch them. We are at the track and Dustin is the first one to compete, he is the first one to compete today, he will be doing the mini javelin. It’s 4:21pm. I feel like I did a really good job with my shot put. I got 2nd place!! I threw it 6 meters!! I just got my award for the 200 meter run and I got bronze!! Tonight we are watching the Seattle Mariners vs Los Angels! I got Nebraska pin, I need one more, then I’m done!

’18 Team Missouri: SOMO supporter volunteers at USA Games

This story comes from our first-ever athlete-leader PR assistant, Allison D’Agostino.

Audrey Verret is a genuine person as any person could be – should be. She puts others before herself. She makes certain the person(s) she’s with feels safe and comfortable. Verret will do anything for Special Olympics and its athletes, even the Missouri program. Most people in Missouri like to call that Special Olympics Missouri.

It’s difficult to put in words on how generous and caring she is. Verret has been involved with Special Olympics for eleven years now, as long as this writer has been an athlete. She loves to familiarize whoever she joins in conversation.

So far, USA Games 2018 is her current favorite. With World Games, it’s a unified umbrella, as she so eloquently pointed out.

“That’s magic in itself, but this is home pride,” said Verret. “It is an entire nation – again – unifying in a platform like this.” As the crowd of friends and families of Special Olympics athletes stand on the field behind her and the interviewer, she clearly feels at home. One would imagine she wouldn’t want to leave. Special Olympics is one huge family, quirks and all.

Ironically, the theme of this year’s USA Games is unity. The 50th anniversary since Eunice Kennedy Shriver created a local event for children with intellectual disabilities. She brought them together and formed something that would be so big, everyone will remember what she did and thank her.

She didn’t create just a local event. She started a family. One that even those without intellectual disabilities would want to join and be a part of it – unified. Audrey Verret, articulate as she is, expressed how it felt like a family to her.

“Special Olympics is more than just something I put my time on,” Verret started. “It’s more than – just something that I get to promote or that I get to be a part of. It’s more than just a community. It’s a family for me. It’s become a family for me. To be part of said family makes my heart feel whole.” It was the joy and culture of inclusion that convinced her to join Special Olympics those eleven years ago.

The staff, coaches, and athletes thank you, Audrey Verret, for becoming a member in a huge community what most of those call a family.