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2014 USA Games Team Missouri newsletter — Monday edition!

Greetings from ‘Joisey!’

Today was the first day of competitions (divisioning, pool play and preliminaries) for most of our teams including aquatics, athletics, basketball (both men’s and women’s), bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, tennis and volleyball. 

Aquatics –
Today was the first round of preliminaries at Princeton University. Overall it was an exciting day, where all of the swimmers improved on their times that they typically put up. Libby Waddell was so excited to see her name on the big board with her swim time. She was dancing and waving her hat around she was so ecstatic. Whenever coaches Amy and Teri start to get stressed about something they ask Jennifer Neihouse what they needs to do and she starts singing “Let it Go.” Most swimmers on the team will be back in the pool on Tuesday for more preliminaries and a few finals.

Athletics –
Everybody except Maria Arnett competed today at the beautiful facility at Princeton University. The young ladies who did compete today including Jane Highland, Shelley Antle and Paige Hall, overcame their nerves early on to do well in their preliminaries. Everyone will be competing on Tuesday in their respective events, some of which are the finals, so stay tuned for information as Team Missouri starts to receive awards.

Men’s basketball –
The men’s basketball team played a nail-biter of a game against Texas to start the day. It was a really even match with Team Missouri coming out on top by two points. Coach Stan Smith said he felt like the guys played really well and most of the players got plenty of playing time. They will play against New York on Tuesday morning.

Women’s basketball –
The women’s basketball team went 1-1 in divisioning play today by beating up on Delaware in the first game and losing a heart-breaker by two against Texas. The girls played really hard in both games and the coaches were really pleased at the outcome considering how the team hasn’t been playing together for very long. Coach Keith Patterson said he was really amazed to see some of the typically reserved athletes come out of their shell during the game and show that they weren’t going to be pushed around by bigger opponents. They will play Ohio in the early morning Tuesday.

Bocce –
Today was divisioning for bocce.  Each of the athletes rolled 15 balls so the judges could be sure to put them in the right division against opponents of similar ability.  After divisioning, bocce members were able to go and watch the women’s basketball team play the second half of its game and it was exciting to watch the girls take care of business and win. The bocce team finished out the day with a well-deserved nap and a wonderful trip up the Hudson River on a dinner cruise.

Bowling –
Today was the first day for preliminaries for all bowlers at the massive Brunswick Zone in Lawrence, N.J. Lindsey Hawkins had a turkey, Chris Miller bowled four strikes in a row and Unified Partner CJ O’Neal had five strikes in a row. The Unified Partners will take Tuesday off as the athletes take center stage and bowl their singles games Tuesday morning. Awards will follow shortly thereafter back at Rider University.

Flag Football –
The flag football team had a hard day on Monday losing both of its games. First it played host state New Jersey and then later in the afternoon squared off against Nebraska. Coach Steve Wilmesherr said it was clear a lot of the players had some nerves going into the first game and it showed in their play, but he added that was really proud of how the team played much better in its afternoon game against the Cornhuskers. He said the guys were really fired up for the second game and showed a lot more enthusiasm and intensity; they improved from game one to game two and that’s really all you can ask from a team. He said it’s really easy to quit when you’re down, but they didn’t do that. The flag football team will square off against Wisconsin at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Golf –
Coach Ken Neff said the golf team had a really good first day out on the majestic course at Mercer County Park. Thomas Cleek shot a 106 playing individual 18 holes and he’s bound and determined to break 100 as the week goes on. Chris Ringot shot a 57 for 9 holes and Nick and Jerry McMullen (UP) shot a 64 as a Unified team. The other Unified team of Jocelyn Diehl (UP) and Stephanie Littrell shot a 77, but coach Ken Neff said more importantly they came off the course with huge smiles on their faces. They played with a team from Nebraska and by the end of the round they were all best friends. Stephanie said that today was the most fun she’s ever had and that’s really the point of all of this, right? For individual skills golfers, Tere’e Trussell and Tina Jones both shot a 44 out of 120 possible points. Tere’e started golfing barely 12 months ago and had a nearly perfect score in the short putt section with an 18 of 20 points. But coach Ken Neff summed it up by saying it’s not about the scores because a successful day is one where they’re excited to come off the course and be ready for the next day. It’s one of the best days of golf that we’ve ever had, he said. The golfers will all compete at the same time and location on Tuesday.

Powerlifting –
Powerlifters Dary McIntyre and Brianne Chavez had a day of rest before they start competition Tuesday morning competing in the deadlift, bench press and squat combination competition. Brianne lifts at 9 a.m. and Dary lifts at 1:30 p.m. They spent their day by watching the basketball teams and cheering them on from the stands.

Tennis –
Another fantastic venue was the tennis complex at Mercer County Parks. Monday was the preliminary rounds for singles for Bobby Williams and Brittany Selken. While Brittany lost both of her matches, Bobby won both of his rather easily. Because of the divisioning, coaches Peggy Llewellyn-Neff and Linda Wiederholt were able to take part in a coaches clinic with pros from the United States Tennis Association, which both Peggy and Linda loved. In the evening both doubles teams with Unified Partners, Jeremie Ballinger playing with Bobby (on the center court with stadium seating) and Ashley Wurst playing with Brittany, won their matches against Louisiana and Georgia respectively. Following the women’s match against Georgia the ref told coach Peggy that the two Unified Partners of Ashley and the other from Georgia were the best UPs he’s ever seen since he’s been involved with Special Olympics Unified Sports play. He said they both gave their athletes the best chance to play the balls and they were great on-the-court coaches. Following the wins by both teams, they were invited back to center court to take part in the Unified Sports Showcase, which highlighted Unified Sports play with help from SO New Jersey athletes and tennis pros from the USTA. Tuesday’s competition schedule begins with singles for both Bobby and Brittany. The Unified teams will both be playing for gold bright and early Wednesday morning.

Volleyball – The volleyball team struggled in the first two games, but was able to start putting together the skills to win the last two games compiling a 2-2 record on the first day of divisioning. In addition to it being an early start time, the fact that they weren’t going off of the score, but on a 25 minute play schedule threw them off a bit. Toward the end of the day, players were starting to get their serves over the net and move their feet to get to the ball. There were some great players by all but outstanding plays were made by Shaina Galloway, Matt Montgomery, Arthur Murphy and Jean Buersmeyer.  Everyone began to pull together and started playing like a team by the end. Coach Diane Brimer said the team is really looking forward to getting into a regular game.  She also said that one of the highlights was watching the players meet the other players from the other states and trading their pins back and forth.

Blog posts – 
“Today was the best day yet in Jersey…” See more of Rachel Antal’s (PR Assistant while at the 2014 USA Games) blog here.  

“The spirit of the USA Games are so different from the competitive world of high school and college sports that I am used to; while SOMO athletes are playing their hardest to win, they are also the first to encourage a competitor and wish them the best, which I love to watch.” See more of Jocelyn Dieh’s (Unified Partner in golf) blog here.

“Most everyone bowled right at or above their existing average, which is good news…” See more of Mandi Steward Ballinger’s (sports manager for bowling) blog here.

“The whole program was high emotional charge.  The theme of Champions was carried throughout.  I have been to two previous nationals and none of them compared to this electric event.  I can’t even find the words so I hope you were there or streamed it on the computer…” See more of Linda Wiederholt’s (sports manager for powerlifting and tennis) blog here. After a few technical difficulties, Linda’s blog is now up to date with three posts Monday night, so be sure to catch up!

Mobile App –
Don’t forget to download the Team Missouri mobile app on your Apple or Android devices. This will be the most immersive MO Magic experience and the best way to follow the team all week while our athletes are busy making you all proud back home. Whether you’re joining us in New Jersey or watching from afar, the app really does have something for everybody (schedules, photo galleries, alerts on when athletes receive awards, videos and more!). If you don’t have a mobile device capable of utilizing the app, you can still access the app via the web at or just stay tuned at

Videos –
Get a first-hand account of what it’s like on the dinner cruise with volleyball player George Richardson with these two videos (here & here)

Men’s basketball player Scott Wright talks to his teammates about their matchup against their first opponent of the games in Team Texas

Scott then takes us to the Special Olympics Town where he meets up with and interviews a WWE superstar

Photo Galleries –

Photos from the sports and fun activities are available both on our Flickr account and on our Facebook page. They will be updated throughout the week so be sure to check in on a daily basis!