Area26 news & updates
February 2022 | Issue 30
Let me win, but if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As planned, the Council met this past week and reviewed the COVID-19 case count and infection rate, and (in consultation with the Sport Coordinators and Season Directors) made the decision to resume indoor sports WITH NO CONTACT this weekend (Feb 5th...). Masks must be worn at all time. Skills only practices for contact sports will be allowed, and if the counts/rates continue to drop (or rise again) the situation will be reviewed and guidance updated. There will be a blast and notification to Coordinators if this happens. Good luck to our returning athletes!!
Snow Day #2

Wow, after having pretty much no snow in 2021, we have had a second exciting snowshot over Martin Luther King weekend. Some of our athletes contributed more fun in the white stuff. Here they are...
Tony Linthicum
Kyler Reese (Fit5)
Mike England
Sean Minnick
Hoang Phan
Max Hershberger (Fit5)
Austin Ward
Having fun or getting things done outside - send us your winter pics!!
Keeping Busy...
During the holiday break and while Special Olympics Virginia Area 26 activities were on pause, many of the athletes participated in sports activities through other organizations. 
Here are some highlights
GMU Mason LIFE teams to the Rescue!  

Last month, Leo Alonso (GMU coordinator/coach of 7 teams) received an urgent call from GMU Eagle Bank activities division. The halftime show for the GMU vs the Dayton Flyers Basketball Game on January 22nd was unexpectedly cancelled, and the Activities group needed a quick alternative. LIFE players were requested to participate in a 1/2 time exhibition under the lights. Leo quickly sprung into action and put together two 5 person teams (current students and alumni) - athletes from 4 different GMU teams who happened to still be in the local area were ready to show their Mason LIFE Pride. 

Tom Merz (Area 26 Athlete) was called from the stands to referee, and one of the GMU Coaches Mike Frew wore two hats - he was a ref and the coach for both teams (GMU Green and GMU White). For 6 minutes these teams delighted the fans in the arena, and were given a huge applause! Instead of heading for the concourse, fans remained in their seats to give support during the 1/2 time exhibition. The announcers recognized each player!!

The Players...

Top Row: Katie Knicely (69); Caitlin Donovan (32); Jessica Lewin (66);
2nd Row: Sidney Uitz (51); Kyler Reese (21); Zach Fowler (99).

3rd Row: Stephanie Vostal (42) and Sean Cross (52); 

4th Row: Kia Hill (35); and Ryan Gutkowski (9).

Up Front: Tom Merz (Referee) 

The GMU Green and White teams warming up
Ryan Gutkowski - puts up a shot 
Kyler Reese (Fit5) and Katie K up for the tip! 
Kyler on a breakaway hooks a 2 pointer while referee Tom Merz (Fit5) looks on...
Sydney Uitz - driving down court for a shot 
The teams after the match..Coach/Ref Mike Frew is on the left and Coach Leo Alonso is on the right.
Photo Credits:Center Court Photo - Josh Foster. All others: Christine Fowler and Donna Vostal
GMU Swimmers getting a wet start...

Members of the GMU Swim Team made use of their membership in the GMU Aquatics Center to get some strokes in and get ready for the Swim season to un-pause. Here are a few pictures....
NFL Playoff Season
Many of our athletes love to watch sports as much as play them. The big game is right around the corner between the LA Rams and the "Who Dey?" Cincinnati Bengals. Our Community geared up during the run up, supporting either the teams in their bracket or just their favorites. Here are some pics...
Virtual Activities...
Hi Athletes,

As always, details and schedule can be found on the online resources page on the Website.
Athletes Corner
  • by Max Hershberger
Hello Area 26!!

Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe out there. Hope you’re all enjoying NFL playoffs 🏈

As always, I encourage you stay hydrated during the day, exercise daily, eat good healthy meals and get lots of hours of sleep as well.

News...On February 13 there is a 5k and 1k at Fairfax Corner. The race is the Run Your Heart Out. If your interested please sign up ( I just signed up for the 5k and hope to see you all there!!

In case you didn't know, they change up the Youniquely Fit workout each week for the sessions scheduled on zooms at 6 pm on Tuesday Wednesday & Thursday. The signup is above in virtual activities. If you want more information on doing it please contact Mike Frew - you can find his info at the link for the workouts.

On January 22nd I went to the George Mason basketball game vs the Dayton Flyers. For the halftime show they had a basketball game with Mason LIFE athletes and it’s kind of like a scrimmage. GMU White vs GMU Green game [Editor's note... see the article above...]. I enjoyed watching the athletes all play from my seats. They all did an awesome job. 

Here I am at the GMU Field House getting ready for Track season.

This month, I am spotlighting some amazing Area athletes. (I am letting them do my homework for me 😁 ) .Hope you all enjoy these a quotes from your Athletes as much as I did...

Tom Merz- I am a Special Olympics athlete. I do Basketball, flag football, and track. I know the pandemic has ruined our Special Olympics seasons unfortunately. But if you are like me, there are always ways to get out there and have fun. You can always find a basketball court to shoot baskets or a field to exercise and play games on. Yes this pandemic has destroyed our special olympics schedule but nothing can stop us from having fun and doing things we love to do.  Anyway.We will all get through this. Let’s not let this pandemic keep us from having fun. So let’s get out and find ways to have fun.

Caitlin Donovan- I’m a Special Olympics athlete. I play basketball, soccer and track and field, but my favorite sport is soccer. Last weekend I played at the GMU halftime show with some of my teammates and also my roommates as well. I wanna say everyone did a great job it was a great opportunity to be able to play during the halftime show at a big game. I wanna thank coach Leo for letting us play during the halftime show. 

Lauren Hyer- i have done Special Olympics for a lot of years. It helped me make new friends. And my favorite sports playing in Special Olympics was soccer, swimming, and Basketball. My favorite thing about swimming was my sister was one of the coaches. I loved being in the water. I do a lot of other ways to stay active i see a personal trainer twice a week I work on upper and lower body. I love working with my trainer. I also do zumba to keep me active. I love to dance, so when i found zumba right away I fell in love with the class.

Jeyoon Cho- My favorite thing do in Sports is play Basketball with my teammates.

Pat Kelly-I play basketball to work hard at it. Basketball is my thing to be better at it. I will take it to the next level... it is my passion and I like to take the risk.

Christian Graham- I like Special Olympics because I get to play sports stay active and fit I have fun playing Special Olympics plus I’m happy as well.

Josh Foster- On the behalf of the athletes of Special Olympics in Area 26, I would like to say thanks to the GMU Head Coaches for supporting our athletes to build up better shape in healthy & eating well to get ready during COVID-19. I wish everyone the best of luck in this upcoming season.

Kaitlin Andersen- Before the pandemic I played track, basketball, snowshoeing and volleyball. Since the pandemic has started I have done volleyball, basketball and will do track again as soon as they start.

Hope you all enjoyed these athletes comments.

A good workout I encourage you to do is Push ups, Planks, Wall sits and Burpee’s. Here is my friend Fit5 Athlete David Kellet-Forsythe doing them now...Go as long as you can to stay strong.

Keep on practicing your basic drills to get ready to go back to indoor events. Hopefully we will get games back in February.. Keep on listening to your coach and get better for your game days.

For your Winter Sports, remember unvaccinated will not be able to participate... Please get your shot and booster shot if you can that way we can make the season safe and enjoyable. 

Talk to you next month

Max Hershberger
Fit-5 Fitness Pals Monthly Update...Will Return later in 2022!
Ongoing Reminder - Return to Activities Resources

  • The plan to restart our sports follows the SOVA guidelines for the return-to-play effort (button #1). [NOTE: COVID-19 Educational material are on pp 20-24]

  • We continue to encourage our community to get vaccinated as soon as they can. *Athletes and Volunteers must be vaccinated and provide proof in order to participate in Area 26 close contact and/or team sports, staying overnight at away games, multi-day events and state games. Information about getting vaccinated can be found (button #2)

  • Each athlete and Volunteer will have to complete a COVID Waiver Form. The link is now to an updated copy which adds vaccination status - (button #3).[3] 

  • SOVA and the CDC provide information about what it means to be a “high risk” participant, and we encourage you to follow the guidance of both SOVA and the CDC in this regard (button #4).

  • Athletes with an expired Medical Form, will have to submit updates to all forms. The package now contains 8 pages - please complete and submit the full package (button #5).
Athletes, please email completed athlete forms AND front/back images of Vaccination Cards to: (this will deliver them to both the Area AND to SOVA - only the one email address is required)

In preparation for return-to-play, we are including a link below to the Volunteer Class A Certification Process on the Area 26 website. 

Volunteer Class A, and coach certifications must be updated every 3 years. Many certifications have expired, and many are due to expire. All volunteers are also required to have a COVID19 Waiver on file (button #3 above... ).
Volunteers, please email completed volunteer forms, certifications AND front/back images of Vaccination Cards to: (as with the athleteform email, this will deliver them to both the Area AND to SOVA - only the one email submission address is required)
Area 26 Policy...
Face Mask 1
All athletes and volunteers must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination if participating in close contact and/or team sports. Additionally, SOVA Policy requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all athletes, volunteers and coaches participating in indoor, overnight or away events. This includes any local, regional, state or national invitational events. Proof of vaccination must be sent to SOVA and Area 26.

Athlete families, please verify with your coaches that your paperwork has been approved before arriving for practice or events. The coaching and volunteer staff cannot accept the forms in person and grant immediate access, as SOVA has the approval authorization.

NOTE: When you submit the athlete paperwork via the email address (and volunteer packages to the address) they go both to the Area AND to SOVA for processing.
Stay Healthy, Stay Active!!
We love to have your pictures - so keep busy and...
Revealing the Champion in all of us...
Please continue to share information about this newsletter and website with those you know in the community so that we can better share the wonder of our special athletes and volunteers. To sign up to receive the newsletter, go to our webform Newsletter Subscription
Area 26 Points of Contact
Area 26 Council

Elaine Tilton

Chuck Adkins-Blanch
Patrick DeLapp
Billy Duquette
Jeffrey Eskridge
Christine Fowler
Max Hershberger
Jay Hoffmeier
Veronica Jennings
Nancy Julia
Abby Lacy
Katherine Martin
Jeff McGiboney
Tejas Patel
Nancy Robbins
Bernie Woolfley
Area 26 Special Olympics |
Season Directors
Elaine Tilton, Fall/Winter

Nancy Julia, Spring/Summer

Barry Tilton

Volunteer Coordinator
Tejas Patel

Athlete Representative
Max Hershberger

Medical Coordinator
Christine Fowler

Senior Director, Potomac Region
Veronica Jennings
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