Area26 news & updates

Winter 2022 | Issue 35
Let me win, but if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt.
In this edition...

  • State Games / Fall Season
  • Football Champions
  • Nysmith Fundraiser
  • Marine Corps Marathon
  • Athletes in Action
  • Fit5 Fall
  • Plane Pull
  • Golf Fundraiser
  • United Airlines intern interview
  • Porto Christmas Party
  • Memoriam: Peter Mathews
  • Athlete's Corner
  • Health Corner
  • Virtual Activities
  • Upcoming Events
  • Area 26 Participation Policy 
  • Registration Resources
  • Staff Directory

Winter Sports practices have begun!!
Fall Championships
Opening Ceremonies

Saturday evening was highlighted by the return of the DANCE!! After a wonderful presentation by primary event sponsor the Knights of Columbus and a welcome from new SOVA President David Thomason, Area 26 Global Messenger Kyler Reese led the oath and the fun began...
Holiday Inn Resort - home away...`

Once again the Area 26 Crew was hosted at the wonderful Holiday Inn Resort North Beach on the water in Virginia Beach.

The Knights of Columbus took time out of their schedules to feed our hungry crew dinner and breakfast, which were both filling and delicious.
-by Andrea Molfato

Area 26 Bowling did AWESOME!!! We were down 1 athlete on the Bowling Aces but they still managed to win the Bronze!!! Our second team, Twins Plus Two not only got the GOLD in their division but in the third game Kyle Leddy scored a 225 and Lee scored a 215 AND the team had the highest score overall for the entire competition!! 
Bowling Aces - Marie Hock,
Jack Abdo, Adelle Legesse
Twins Plus Two - Kevin and Kyle Leddy,
Mac Dillon, Lee Blakeman
- by Robin Utz

Fourteen golf athletes, along with unified partners, competed at Fall Champs 2022. (Level 5 teams in this photo...)

Results: Level 5
Alex Hansen - 4th place
Andrew Allen - silver 
Dave Curtin - gold 
Level 3
Dave Seiwert/Coach Sandy Schwartz - 4th place
Level 2
Michelle Otterness/Coach Gail Whalen - gold 
Grant Harris/Coach Freddie Markson - silver
Mike Abraham/Coach Mike Abraham - silver
Jonathon Wolf/Coach Rich Wolfe - gold
Jinho Chang/Coach Ryan Holmes - gold
Level 1 - Skills Competition 
Charles Nguyen - gold - record setting score! 
Scott Eichmann - gold 
Elizabeth Atkinson-Richter - gold 
Michael Long - gold
Jarrett Datoc - silver
Alex Hansen and Christian
Elizabeth Richter Gold
Dave Curtin Gold
Charles Nugyen Driving
Charles Nugyen Gold
Jared Datoc Silver
Jared Datoc Putting
Andrew Allen (Silver)
Grant Harris (Silver) and Michelle Otterness
Jinho Chang Putting
with Ryan Holmes
Mike Abraham Silver
Scott Eichman Gold
Michelle Otterness Gold
Dave Seiwert and
Coach Sandy
Michelle Long Gold
Elizabeth Richter-Atkinson and Charles Atkinson
Elizabeth measures her putt
Levels 1-3 before their medal ceremony
-by Abby Whidden

Soccer was almost back in full swing this year with most teams that played before the pandemic participating and we had so much fun! While the rain did spoil our fun for one tournament, our teams still showed up and showed out at 6 events including the Dulles Plane Pull, Lewis Tournament sponsored by Ankura (yay pizza!), PVI Tournament, Andrew Benson Memorial tournament at Bishop Ireton, PVI Under the Lights, and of course, THE FALL GAMES

A couple honorable mentions for our soccer teams this year: 
  • Shout out to Screaming Eagles who raised the most money this year among soccer for the Dulles Plane Pull!! They had a fun end of year party to celebrate
  • Honorable mention to the Diamonds who gave Screaming Eagles a true run for their money at the Plane Pull and also were well prepared with their medicals when we had an emergency with no parents on the field. Tasha is doing great! 
Soccer Tournament Diary
-By Leo Alonso
A great sunny weekend with 78-80 degree weather boded well for our GMU athletes. They were ready to roll.  Saturday’s preliminaries were uneventful and ran on time allowing our players to get gussied up for dinner, opening ceremonies and dance after a 2-year hiatus.  Our very own GMU rapper, Kyler Reese, was one of the masters of ceremonies rapping to get the 2,000+ athletes, families and volunteers riled up for an evening of fun!!  With the clocks set back an hour, I arrived at breakfast at 6 AM only to find six of our athletes already finishing their breakfast. Shortly thereafter, everyone started rolling in as three teams were assigned a 9 AM start time for their first games.
Division 8 Mason Nation won games of 8-1 and 4-0 to bring home the Gold medal for GMU.
Division 2 GMU Patriots defeated the Fairfax Quicksilver in double overtime 2-1 and beat the Chesterfield Force, 2-1 win in a tough defensive game for the Gold!
Due to medical and transportation challenges, the PVI Panthers were forced to drop out, and we formed a replacement team with available players from our Stars team (Area 26 first alternate), the only available and healthy PVI player, and a pickup squad of players from Mason Nation and Green Machine. They played great as they had not practiced together previously. They gave it their all, but were overmatched. Our Stars did not shy away and played valiantly as the other teams won, but they showed no fear and had a great time enjoying the weekend in their oceanfront rooms as well participating in all of the other activities.
Division 1 Gold Rush was the cream of the crop in the tournament defeating the Richmond Strikers.  In Saturday’s scrimmages, Gold Rush was told by the other team: “Don’t worry. Sunday we will be a different team with our missing players.” Our group showed them they were not ready to give up their gold medal crown with a 6-0 victory. In the second game, we played the Stafford Titans I by
Green Machine was placed in Division 1 which was a great accomplishment as they have earned a spot in the top division with great teamwork, and were proud to bring home the Bronze in Division 1 state soccer tournament where the mighty Gold Rush took Gold.
With our Mason flag flying high over all of the games and during the medal ceremonies, GMU makes their presence known as the Green and Gold from Fairfax, Virginia.
Congratulations to all!, COACH LEO

After a solid and winning performance at the Shenandoah invitational, and one in Maryland the WarHawks team found their way to Gold at States for a second year in a row.

Front Row: : Asst Coach Christine Fowler, Kyler Reese, Austin Ward, Hoang Phan, Sam Selnick, Jacqui Callaway, Max Hershberger, Stephen James.
Back Row: Sean Minnick, Nick Ortega, Kia Hill, Ben Fowler.
Avengers assembled...

Top Row: Kyler Reese, Nick Ortega, Nick Donalon, Sean Minnick, Austin Ward, Tom Merz, Matt Sapienza

Bottom Row: Stephen James, Sam Selnick, Tony Linthicum, Hoang Phan and Jay Choi
Flag Football Gold...Again

The Avengers are a force to be reckoned with! The team had a full season of play, despite the cancellation of one major tournament due to a rainstorm they called Hurricane Nicole.

They scrimmaged with the main Area 23 Team (also, interestingly, called the Avengers...), and then moved on to Richmond for the big show. In their second season attending the Fall Flag Championships they came away with Gold...Again!!.

The team then progressed to the US Regional NIRSA Tournament in Maryland. At our Area's second appearance at NIRSA, we faced a whole new level of challenge and growth, and will be a real contender next year at North Carolina!
In Golden Armor for the Second Time
Playing at Maryland NIRSA
The full State Tournament teams all together
Our Star-quality State Refs...
Coaches Jim Warson, Tom Lipovski, Matt Elliston (Head Coach) and Barry Tilton
Area 26 AND 23 Avengers - doubly assembled (a sequel?)
Early in the season, Assistant Coach Daniel Lipovski (currently a nominee for Gatorade Player of the Year), Invited the team to come to one of the Lake Braddock Bruins home games, and they got to join the players on the field for a pre-game tour and talk.

Daniel and Coach Tom were both interviewed about their involvement in Special Olympics on the local Fox News station. You can see a portion of the interview at the button...
Daniel finished the season a First Team All Region Quarterback!

The first events of our new sport Pickleball happened in November. The crew had a blast with the fast-paced new game...Note: This is a demonstration sport - in order for it to return, we will need fundraising and/or donations

For more information please contact Coordinator Brenda Zepf at:
Nysmith Fundraiser...

The 2022 Fall Make-the Point fundraiser brought together the talented students of the Nysmith School and members of our Legends and GMU basketball teams to shoot for funds. Global Messenger Kyler Reese once again narrated a video for the event, this year featuring both the Dulles Plane Pull and Flag Football, along with guest cameos by other Area 26 personalities.

The event was their most successful ever, bringing in over $8,000. THANK YOU NYSMITH!!
Area Chair Elaine Tilton receiving the collected donations from Katherine Machetti, Nysmith Special Olympics Fundraising Chair of Make the Point
Several athletes joined Kyler on the court for the event...Jeff Cogswell, Stephen James and Sean Minnick. Council Member and Track/Field Coordinator Jeff McGiboney supported and took all of the photos!
Marine Corps Marathon...
  • by Nancy Julia

Thirty Special Olympics athletes and partners lined up with about 3000 other runners to compete in the Marine Corps 10K (6.2 miles) race starting on the Mall in DC and ending at the Iwo Jima Memorial.  It was chilly and dark for the 7:55am start but everyone was there ready to go when the cannon blast signified the beginning of the race. 

Max Hershberger was the first Virginia athlete to finish with an impressive time of 40.26.  He was 9th in his age group, 41st among all males and 44th overall.  Following Max were Robert Opiela, Khang Le, Thomas Gregg and Bruce McGiboney.  
Robert Opiela and Khang Le pre-race at our Start Tent
Coach McGiboney getting Bruce suited up for the race
Khang Le Receives his Medal
Jeff McGiboney-Coach, Max Hershberger, Bruce McGiboney, Robert Opiela
Tom Gregg-Unified Partner for Robert,
Khang Le

The temperatures have fallen, and our athletes are either bundling up to glide outside or head indoors to the courts. Here are some glimpses of both...
Cross Country and Snowshoe get under way...
  • By Nancy Julia

The winter season began with a bang with cold temperatures and wind!  It was a shock to everyone as we’d had many weeks of summer like temperatures but no one complained as we warmed up and then worked on conditioning and technique.  Snow is not required for practice but having some does help get ready for the slopes.  Our goal is the January competition at White Grass Ski Touring Center in West Virginia.  You can believe we’ll be doing the snow dance when January comes!
Alex Park

Michael Villalta
Steven Steiner
Khang Le
Anthony Luu
Stacey Steiner 
Greg Steiner
Bruce McGiboney 
Max Hershberger

A few teams sent pics of their kickoff practices...
Cannons and Fairfax Bulls Scrimmage
Eagles White
Fit5 returns...

Fit5 Crew were all over the fields and courts this year with performances in tennis, track, football, volleyball and soccer, amongst other things.

Did YOU keep busy this Fall?
Jay Choi - "Ready to Receive!!"
Tom Merz perfecting Corner coverage before State Finals
Max putting one in play for the WarHawks
David Kellet-Forsyth with a SOLID pass at the State Games
Kyler Reese Celebrating the State win!
Plane Pull 2022 - Fun on the Runway!!

Area 26 was well represented at the Pull this year as the event got back to full swing post COVID.

The Area Flag Football Team dominated the Area 26 participation at this year's pull, which raised Over $3500 for the Area program. Here are some highlight photos...
Area Athletes Michelle Phillip, Kyler Reese and Billy Duquette participated as pull coaches cheering on the teams all day.
Area 26 Fall Fundraiser Golf Tournament - Another Great Success!

In mid-October, when Fall had not yet shown its colors, the Golf program ran another SUPER successful fundraising tournament for the Area, raising over 46k (net after expenses over 33k to Area 26!). Tourney chair (and former A26 Golf Coordinator) Mark Emery and current coordinator Robin Utz put together an event which brought in much needed funding for area teams and programs, while everyone had a fantastic day in the sun.

United Airlines / Special Olympics Shadow Day...
United Airlines joined SOVA Areas 14, 23 and 26 to pilot a program that they have established previously in Colorado and Chicago. After an application process, on November 15th, 20 SO Athletes were selected for a day of tours and job-shadowing at Dulles airport. The athletes went behind the scenes of United flight and airport operations with an objective of securing an interview for an Ambassador position at Dulles.

Good luck to the participants going forward!!
Porto Charities Christmas Party
-by Christine Fowler
Twas the second Sunday of Advent and many Special Olympics Athletes joined Porto Charities (regular sponsor of Area 26 programs...) to Celebrate the Season of Christmas! More than 130 attendees enjoyed great food catered by Tony Stafford of Ford’s Fish Shack, Traditional Christmas Carols and DANCING to the rhythms mixed by DJ Hector Peña. Porto Charities and Special Olympics Area 26 wish ALL a Merry Holiday Season!
In Memoriam - Peter Charles "Pete" Mathews
Area 26 lost one of its longest serving volunteers in early November with the passing of Pete Mathews. Pete was the coach and driving force between the Bellefonte Wizards for years.

Pete came to America in the mid-50s when he was a child from Seravazza Italy, and maintained his ability to speak Italian along with being fluent in English and Spanish. He attended Howard University in the 70s, and married his lifelong partner Nancy in 1977. They had 6 children and 13 grandchildren. Nancy passed away in January of 2021.

Pete was a Mason and dedicated Social Worker, who tirelessly advocated for group home residents in Alexandria. He will be sincerely missed by his family, his second family (the Wizards), and the Area 26 SO community.
Athletes Corner
  • by Max Hershberger
Hello Area 26!!!!!

Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying your fall sports. I recently interviewed a couple of the area 26 athletes on their way to Fall Games. The name of the athletes are Austin & Jackie!!
Austin Ward 

Q) How long have been a special Olympics athlete 
A) Over 14 years

Q) What sports do you play for what teams?
A) Avengers- Flag Football, Mighty Titans Basketball, Cougars- Softball

Q) What is your favorite pro sport team.
A) The Milwaukee Bucks

Q) What do you do outside of sports?
A) Hang out with friends & Shooting hoops. 

Q) Who is your hero?
A) My Coaches!!!

Q) What was favorite part of Fall Games?
A) I enjoy spending time with the team mates and having fun at the Hollywood Ceremony dance

Q) Did you get a medal?
A) Yes, our Warhawks got the gold medal for Volleyball 
Jacqui Callaway

Q) How long have been a special Olympics athlete 
A) 8 years for Special Olympics 

Q) What sports do you play for what teams?
A) Basketball Edison Eagles white, Softball-Cougars, Volleyball-Warhawks 

Q) What is your favorite pro sport team.
A) New England Patriots. 

Q) What do you do outside of sports?
A) Full time job at CW Resources at bowling Air Force Base. 

Q) Who is your hero?
A) My Aunt, Maria Murphy

Q) What was favorite part of Fall Games?
A) Enjoy the whole weekend with the team! 

Q) Did you get a medal?
A) Yes, our Warhawks got the gold medal for Volleyball 
I did the Marine corp 10k run on October 30th on that Sunday and some other special Olympics competed in that event as well. It was a perfect running weather that day and the temp was 45 degrees. My one mile pace time was 6.30 and overall time was 40 minutes!!!

If you’re interested competing the Marine Corp 10k event next season & please register, Let Jeff Mcgiboney & Nancy Julia know- It’s usually last Sunday on October.

My WarHawks volleyball team got selected to go to Virginia Beach November 5-6. I am so proud of my team and good sportsmanship behaviors, couldn’t be more blessed for my athletes. Our team played their hearts out and got gold medals. My favorite part about fall champs is hang out with my teammates, walking around the boardwalk on the beach and the ceremonies Hollywood dance..

Looking forward for the winter sports coming up and I bet you're ready for it as well..

Talk to you all in the Spring in the next newsletter 😊

More athletes next time, keep working out!!

Max Hershberger
Health Corner...
by Kyler Reese
HI Everyone!!

Winter Sports are Back! But while activities, like basketball, cross country, skiing, figure and speed skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc,. are great ways to stay active and get outside during the long, cold winter months, they can be dangerous. Every year a lot of people suffer injuries from these winter sports. Here are some steps to prevent winter sports injuries:

1) Stay active and shape up - Stay in shape and exercise your muscles before participating in winter activities. 

 2) Don't go from 0 to 100 - Do some light warm up exercises or stretches and go easy before you push yourself. 

3) Know your limits - Don't over challenge yourself. 

4) Stop when you get tired - Accidents and injuries are more likely to happen when you are tired.

5) Stay hydrated - Drink water before, during and after the activity.

I hope you have a great winter season, and happy holidays! 

Talk to you next time,
Virtual Activities...
Hi Athletes,

As always, details and schedule can be found on the online resources page on the Website.
Upcoming events...
Saturday, Jan. 7th     Loudoun Basketball Invitational Tournament // Sites TBD
Sunday, Jan. 22nd     Area 26 Tournament // Sites TBD
Sunday, Jan. 29th      Area 26 Basketball Invitational // Sites TBD
Sunday, Feb. 19th.      Area 26 State Games Warmup Tournament
Mar 4-5                     Basketball Championships in Stafford

Opportunities to volunteer and help at these and other events can be found at the button below...
Area 26 Participation Policy...
Face Mask 1
Area 26 is now operating under GREEN COVID protocols: Masks are recommended but not required for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID19.  Providing COVID vaccination status is mandatory.

Masks AND a negative COVID test are mandatory at every session for the Unvaccinated. Physical proof of the negative test must be given to the activity leader (coach or coordinator) and documented on THIS FORM

Additionally, Area 26 Policy requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all athletes, volunteers and coaches participating in overnight or away events. Unvaccinated individuals may only join as day participants. 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.

-- See the Registration Resources section (farther down) for links to all forms --
Registration Resources

  • 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 #1). 

  • 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 #2).
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)

See the button below for 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 #1 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)
Stay Healthy, Stay Active!!

We love to have pictures of your Special Olympics activities - 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
Jeff Eskridge
Christine Fowler
Max Hershberger
Jay Hoffmeier
Veronica Jennings
Nancy Julia
Katherine Martin
Jeff McGiboney
Tejas Patel
Nancy Robbins
Abby Whidden
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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