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Today was a very long day to say the least. I was able to get over 3 and a half hours before we had to get ready to leave to head to the airport. Everyone was very tired. Johnathon told me I looked chipper but I guess I was just happy to get some sleep. We loaded the bus at 3:10 a.m. We picked up some people from Texas at TCNJ and then headed to the airport. We got to our destination and unloaded our bags. We went got our boarding passes and went through security. They opened up a separate line for our team. I remembered to take my laptop out this time too.
We found our gate around 5 a.m. McDonalds opened up so we could go eat. I helped the volleyball team with their food. Then I found some seats to lay out and fall asleep on. I don't know how long I slept for but I know it was really cold when I woke up. We were all freezing. It was way too early. I don't know why we were there so early either. I got to see the sunrise so I guess that was the one positive of being up. We decided to start cuddling groups to keep warm. Matt Montgomery said he was like an ice cube. I even went to the bathroom and stood under the dryer to get warm. I almost asked the stewardess for her jacket lol. I didn't bring mine because I thought I would be hot when I got to Missouri. Turns out Jason asked the lady for it when we got on the plane. A few of our athletes were going to board first so they weren't sitting by themselves this time. The lady at the gate ended up letting the whole team go first which was very nice. We all got to sit together. I don't know why but I sat with Renee and Johnathon. They liked waking me up. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open as soon as we got sat down. I fell asleep when we took off. Johnathon told me the flight attendant was coming around taking drink orders and he asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for juice but immediately had wish I hadn't so no one would wake me up. We went through some turbulence so no one moved for a few minutes. I fell back asleep as soon as she took the trash and woke up when we got to St. Louis.
We got our luggage pretty quick. Waiting on a shuttle took the longest. Then Brandon's wife was there to pick up he, Johnathon, and I. I slept for some of the trip back. I had a hard time staying awake to text my uncle Tim when we were getting close. He picked me up in Kingdom City and brought me back to Columbia. We went and got lunch at TGI Fridays. It tasted really good. I hadn't drink tea in a while to help sleep at night. I got some tea there but it didn't keep me alert for long. I got in my car and drove back to Warrensburg and made it back around 2:45. I am very thankful to Brandon's wife and my uncle for giving me a ride so I didn't have to stay in St. Louis until this evening waiting on other groups.
These USA games were amazing. The athletes came a long way during this year, in their teamwork, attitudes, and determination. I couldn't be more proud to be apart of Team Missouri. I noticed yesterday they didn't crown the fans of the game. Doesn't matter. We know that we supported our team to the very end and they tried their best. I was also disappointed that I didn't get to see Diane Brimer's traditional baton routine. I love this team and I am going to miss them so much. I know that I will have friends for a lifetime. Thanks for reading my blog for the week and keeping up with me. Hopefully I had something interesting to share with you. Let's bring it home. Show me, show me, show me! Mo, mo, mo!
I had this blog typed out before the internet went out on me. Today was another exciting day in Jersey even if I didn't meet any celebrities. Our athletes did awesome.
I actually got a little more sleep last night which was a good start for the day. I also got to sit and eat breakfast instead grabbing food on the go. I sat down with two athletes from Oregon and got to know them a little bit.
I took the shuttle and headed over to basketball first thing. The men's basketball team was facing New York. It was a tough game. They started out ahead. New York had some very vocal fans and a coach who probably should have been escorted from the game but nothing was done about it. After a rough game, Team Missouri lost by 1 point. They played with class though so we were extremely proud.
I rode with April Yaeger, Crystal and Tim Schuster, and Sarah Byland over to the volleyball game. Lots of Missouri fans turned out for the game. They lost their first match. They came out strong the second match and beat Pennsylvania. They played the third match and won the bronze! It was exciting seeing everyone so excited. Matt Montgomery was crying and came over and hugged me. We were all so excited that we forgot we were hungry for lunch. We went and ate. There was some very questionable corn dogs and sloppy joes. Brandon, Johnathon, Linda Wiederholt and I stayed behind to finish the soccer game.
It was raining when we left. Brandon and I got started on work. I did some laundry so I could have some clean clothes for the rest of the week. I got to talk to Derrick for a little which was nice. I laid down to rest for a few minutes. Then Johnathon and I went to find some good food. We ate some Chinese. When we got back, some of the basketball team was outside so we played keep away with their basketballs. I worked on my work more after that. It wasn't too intense of a day which was nice. Tomorrow is our last full day here.
New Jersey throws out new curveballs and adventures each day. That's funny because my group went to the Trenton Thunder game tonight. I stayed behind to get ahead on work. It was a very early morning as I caught the bus and headed to bowling. Only one bus goes out so I had no choice. These athletes are troopers though, making it through the heat and lack of sleep.
We made it to bowling and fans and volunteers cheered the athletes in which got them pepped up for the day. They found their assigned lanes. This bowling alley had 85 lanes. It was huge. Definitely helps speed things up. I was so impressed with our athletes. They were cheering on the other athletes and they were bowling well I thought. Chris and C.J. were better than professionals. They bowled strikes and spares each frame. Mandi said Chris was disappointed when he left one pin up but we were just so proud of him for his amazing score. Kim Childress and some other Skyline people were there watching. The athletes bowled three games. Then we headed back to Rider. We ate lunch. It was actually something besides chicken and pasta lol.
After lunch, I went over to watch volleyball. Jonathon sat next to me and gave me a hard time. There were lots of Mo Magic fans. Team Missouri played really well. They won their first game easily. There second game was a nail biter but they won.
I headed over to bowling awards after. I sat in the front row in the media row. People were entirely rude. I moved to the middle because people walked in front of me right when Tiffany and Lindsay were getting their medals. This guy told me I couldn't be down there unless I had a press pass so I showed him mine. Then he yelled at this lady next to me because she was sitting in his seat with his camera under it although you couldn't see it at all. He just kept yelling at everyone. I got to see our athletes win their medals and the look on their faces made it all. This one athlete was crying because he was so happy.
I came back to the dorm when the sports were done and tried to get a head start on work. I even had enough time to Skype with Derrick. I got some Domino's for dinner since the food hasn't been the greatest. It was great. It's so weird to actually have a little bit of time to do something tonight.
I decided to go over to Unified basketball night at the gym. It was cool. NBA stars Ryan and Jason Thompson played with the athletes. There were some NBA players too. They all played a great game. This young athlete did such a great shooting. He made a couple baskets. After the game, I sped out to the court. I got my picture taken with Jason Thompson! I also got an autograph for Derrick. I heard I am going to be in trouble with Decker, Derrick's little brother, since he loves Jason. I was so excited and fan girling. We watched the next unified game and then headed back to the dorm to work on work. Fingers crossed, I think I might be at bed at a decent time. Very tired but loving New Jersey still. The first part of the day was stressful but the evening was all worth it. Good night all!
Another exciting day in Joysey. I finally heard someone say it with the accent today. This morning I got breakfast and headed off to Bocce with Brandon. Their computers were down so we waited for a while and then had to leave. We went over to Powerlifting to watch Bri lift. She completed her personal best of 330 with the dead lift. I don't think I could probably do the bar. We headed back to the Bocce teams but they still weren't playing. We got some lunch at the College of New Jersey because we heard it was the best food. It was pretty good. While we were at Bocce, Pierce told me I was a cutie pie and he told Scott to stop picking on me.
This morning, Alex Kunz had gotten a hat from Olympic Village yesterday and he was wearing it. The athletes could get whatever they wanted on it. Alex accidentally said Mom Magic so they put Mom Magic on his hat.
When I walking on the campus, I stumbled upon Eddie Barbanell from the Ringer. I got to meet him and got my picture with him so that was cool.
I caught the shuttle and headed over to Aquatics. I met some people from New York on the trip. They kept me entertained on the bus ride. I made a new friend, Ryan.
I made it to Aquatics and watched our athletes compete. They did such a great job. They're so fast. I was sitting on the media row right where the athletes walked by. This guy next to me was high fiving them all right in front of me so when they high fived, I got water splashed in my face lol.
After Aquatics and awards, I took the shuttle back. It was close to dinner time so I just went and ate. I came back to my room and took a nap. It was awesome but I did not went to get up after. I did get to talk to Derrick for a little bit on the phone which was nice.
I met Brandon and we went over to Olympic Village. We found the track team and got some pictures. They were loving the carnival. There was boardwalk that went all across the parking lot with stands and games for the athletes. Bocce was playing at night so we were able to catch their games. Two of the men's doubles from Missouri ended up playing each other. We found our teams at Healthy Athletes.
Then Brandon and I headed back. We stopped to get gas. I really wanted to see someone else pump our gas so we got to experience that. I read up on the history for Brandon. It actually started in the 50's because they were worried people were going to blow themselves up. Now they don't get rid of it because it gives people jobs. The gas price is actually higher because they put the wages in the price. Brandon and I got a head start on our work. Then we went to the coaches meeting. They had some great stories. I love the athletes. They are simply inspiring and the reason we are all here. Tomorrow is new day. Please pray the athletes stay cool.
Today was the best day yet in jersey. It was a very early morning. I grabbed breakfast on the go then headed to the shuttle to go to golf. I was on the bus with two people from bama and a guy from south carolina. We made it the golf course before they teed off. I found thomas and ken. Thomas was starting on hole 8 so ken told be to walk on out there. I walked miles and got half way. I got to course 4 when I found someone and asked where hole 8 was. He told me I was way away so he took me in his golf cart there. I gave him a mo magic pin since he saved me. I saw a deer next to the road and I thought it was a statue until I took a step and it moved its head. I started snapping away. I wondered how close it would let me get but it jumped away. I took some pictures of thomas for a few wholes, then I went and found the next groups going out. The athletes left to go out to the course. I found a guy and asked him how media could get out there since the athletes were playing at much farther holes this time. He said there are golf carts with keys, tell them Chris sent you. Score I got to drive a golf cart around. Ken wondered how I swung that. I found mo magic family members and gave them a ride. The golf cart got a flat so I had to switch. I got pictures of most all the golfers. Tere'e and Tina were doing the short putt competition. Everytime I took a picture of tere'e she got pretty close to the hole. Whenever I didnt she sunk it in everytime. It got time to where I needed to leave to go to volleyball. What they didnt tell you was that if you came out for golf, you were stuck there until they were done. I ended having Brandon come get me. By the time he made it, I missed their game. I found them though and went and ate dinner with them. I went back to the dorm after. I did a little bit of work. I called and talked to mom for a bit.
The bocce team and I got ready and headed to the dinner cruise. It was us and volleyball and all the other bocce and volleyball teams. We loaded the shuttle and I took a little snooze. Courtney went to take a picture of me sleeping and I woke up. We made it to new York. I didnt think we were actually going to be in new york but we were. We stopped at the9/11 memorial. That was really cool and sad at the same time. It was hard to picture that happening. New york and new jersey make it impossible to see anything with the trees they have that line the sides of the road. We saw peeks of the statue of liberty through the trees. The new york city skyline was everything I pictured. It was beautiful. I was walking on water. We saw our cruise boat and eventually all loaded. Im really happy they let us take in the sights. The boat was fancy. We got seated. A dj played music and people danced. We walked on the top deck outside to see everything. It was gorgeous. Only our God could design such beauty. It was cool seeing the statue of liberty closer and the empire state building. We finally got dinner. It tasted great. My plate was clean. After dinner people danced some more and the boat took us around the sights. They served new york style cheesecake which I of course couldnt pass up. Later we all finally left and loaded the buses to head back. Another late night. Brandon and I gave george the go pro so I am interested to see the videos. I think I speak for everyone here when I say I am ready for bed. Morgan us zonked out next to me on the bus. It was a great but long day. I still have work to do when it s back to the dorm. Good night or good morning, whenever you read this haha.
This morning I was able to catch up a little bit on rest. Then brandon, Shaffer, and I headed to the family pep rally. There was great turn out of family members. They got to learn about the games and get excited. Shaffer successfully got us there and back lol. For those of you who dont know, in my last experience to nebraska for the games, we had a great time going the wrong way in one ways anddriving in to construction zones. The jug handles are still intriguing on the road. We came back from the pep rally just in time to meet the team and head off for the opening ceremonies. We loaded the bus at noon to go. We finally pulled out at 1:40 waiting on all the teams to get there. The trip was long but it was cool. They shut down the highway and turnpike for us. We had policeescorts that took us all the way to newark. We got our first glimpse of the New York City skyline which was pretty neat. Ill get to see it closer tomorrow. We made it to Newark at 3:20. After being on the bus for over 3 hours, ive never been so happy to walk before. Everyone was cheering on the athletes. We foundour team sign. Steve Davis was holding our sign. He represented Missouri in the final leg for the torch run. We traded for some pins. Brandon was like a kid experiencing Christmas as he traded. Eventually it was time to make our wayinto the arena. The Hansons and my parents were watching online as well as many other Missouri fans. They called our state and we walked out. I was in front to get pictures of the athletes
USA parade of athletes is an experience unlike any other. I was able to get on camera for a second so my families got to see me. The look on the athletes faces made it all worthwhile. We got to our seats. At 6 pm we had lunch. Yes I mean lunch. It was a lunchable. So filling...Granola bars kept me sane until then. Brandon also shared his goldfish with me. There was a billy joel tributeband that wasn't too bad. The lead from Wicked sang defying gravity. That was incredible. I love wicked so I loved it. Brooklyn decker and Michael carter Williams hosted. Wish I could have gotten an autograph for derrick since Michael plays for the 76ers. Some other celebs made guest appearances includedJane lynch from glee which I also loved. They had a great presentation of the special olympics flag and unified sports. They did the torch run which gave me chills. Then Tim Shriver declared the games open. We loaded the buses and headed back to the college. I havent heard many jersey accents yet except the girl who brought us our box lunches. She pointed out our Missouri accents butshe didn't say too much with a jersey accent. We made it back way quicker. We had a box dinner. Then it was time for a coaches meeting. It might be a late night for brandon and I. Tomorrow begins the first day of competition. Lets go Missouri!
It was an early day for everyone this morning as we had to get up early to get to the airport. I was fortunate that my flight wasn't at 6:30 like the first two groups. My flight was at 8:30. We loaded the bus this morning and headed to the airport. We got our boarding pass and went through security. Jonathon didn't tell me that I had to take my laptop out of my bag so they had to recheck it again lol. We went and sat in our area and waited for the flight to come in. Kendall, Brianne and I were the three from the third group that hadn't flown before. Our flight finally came and we boarded. I got a window seat so I could experience the flight completely. George, one of the athletes, sat next to me. He had plenty to talk about the whole trip so he kept me entertained. He told me I was behind in my wedding planning because I didn't have it all planned already so I could relax the rest of the year. The flight was pretty smooth. When we got to Pennsylvania, George thought we were in a different country. I dozed off and on during the fight but never completely fell asleep. When we got close, the flight attendant announced to the plane that Team Missouri was aboard. Everyone cheered. She happened to be from Texas and her daughter is supposed to be here this week representing them in Athletics which is really cool. The landing was a little bumpy so I didn't feel great when we got off. Some army soldiers carried our bags to the bus for us. George announced that Brandon was going to be the ring bearer at his wedding. Volunteers welcomed us in to Philly and cheered us on. The athletes loved it.
We loaded another bus and were off to New Jersey. Most everyone fell asleep on the trip. The athletes decided that Philly drivers are way worse than St. Louis drivers lol. We watched an informational video about the games. I think there are so many more trees in New Jersey. The off ramps are surrounded by them so you can't see anything else . It is beautiful. The temperature was definitely cooler and nice. In case you didn't know, you can't make left turns in New Jersey either so that's interesting. We made it to Rider University within an hour. A band and greeters were all pepped up for us when we made it. We had to go around twice to find the dorm but we made it. Shaffer and Crystal were waiting with lunches. We unpacked. Then Brandon and I went and picked up media credentials for the week. We were the first group to make it. The second group wasn't far behind. The last group finally made it about 3 something. I forgot about the time change. We lost an hour but we will gain one next Saturday at least. We had a little bit of down time this afternoon to relax which is a very rare thing. We had a coaches meeting to get to know important things for the week. Then we all went off to dinner. The pin trading began. If you have never gone before, its a big deal. If you know Curt Yaeger, you know his goal for this week is to get all of the states. Brandon already had his traded out. I'll start tomorrow once everyone is here. It was exciting to see all the different states come in. Poor Utah is stuck in a dorm with us for the week. I surprisingly got my own room but Its probably a good thing so someone doesn't have to hear me come in late and I won't bother them when they have to get up really early. I worked on some pictures and was able to skype Derrick a little and tell him about New Jersey. He loves to joke and call me old so he asked me if my SOMO shoes were orthopedic. What a meany. It's a been a great first day and I know everyone is tired. I have already done three things I never have before today: fly, go to Pennsylvania, and go to New Jersey. This is going to be a great week!
Tomorrow is the day we leave for New Jersey. I am anxious and excited. I have never flown before. I've heard good things and bad but I know all will go well. Today was the Send-off. I met my mom and my nephew in Columbia to eat lunch. Then we went over to meet the bus. When it came, I said goodbye to my mom. She told me to not stress and have a good time. I don't know why but I cried. I've been to national games before and I know its going to be a blast but I don't want to leave my family or fiance. We loaded the bus and I waved goodbye. The trip seemed to go on forever. We stopped so the driver could fuel the bus and we all charged our phones of course. We made it late but the one thing they tell you for USA game is that we have to be flexible. We packed our bags and the fun began. Bill Chott from the Ringer, entertained us with some magic and then told about Marshall the miracle dog. He brought the dog with him. Matt Cepeda, William Reese, Bill and I took a selfie. I found out later that he made the selfie his cover picture on Facebook. Then it was time for dinner for the athletes. The coaches had a meeting. Then we got to eat. There wasn't a whole lot of food after everyone was fed but there was ice cream! Then all the athletes marched in to the auditorium for the send-off. It was great seeing them pumped up. Gary and Mark both spoke. Then the athletes loaded up the bus to head to the hotel. There was room for everyone so they went in groups. The other athletes danced behind. When it was finally time for the last group to go, we ended up leaving in cars. Renee and I got to ride in a cop car. I had shot gun. A very nice officer, Aaron, drove us. We had a great time getting to know each other. I couldn't help but laugh with Renee in the back. She started to talk and jokingly I said, "Renee, you have the right to remain silent." We made it to the hotel. We reorganized. Now its off to bed to get ready for an early day tomorrow. I am excited for the athletes. I know they will love it.
I thought it would be good to start off with a blog about myself. I am Rachel Antal. Only Antal for 11 more months and then I will be marrying my fiance Derrick Hanson. I am a senior in college with a mjor in photography. I've been involved with Special Olympics all my life. Literally my mom was taking me to events before I could even walk because she was the coach of our local team. Special Olympics has been my second family forever. I have loved SOMO all my life. It is an addicting experience. Once you go once, you will never stop. I don't need to tell you that. This week at USA games, I am the Public Relations Assistant. I will be doing most of the Facebook and Twitter updates and taking pictures all week of the athletes. I was the P.R. Assistant at the last USA games and it was the best week of my life so I look forward to it again. I have been an unified partner in bowling and bocce before. I coached basketball for my local team and have been on the Youth Activation Council for 4 years now. SOMO is the best second family you could ever want.
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."