Special Olympics Delaware will send 29 athletes to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida next summer.
The full contingent will include nine coaches, four staff members and two students from Caesar Rodney High School who will attend as part of the Unified Champion Schools Youth Leadership Experience.
The delegation will compete in seven of the 19 Olympic-type sports offered: basketball, bocce, bowling, powerlifting, swimming, tennis and track & field.
Here’s who is going:
Basketball: Jesse Benson (Dover), Malik Bradford (Wilmington), Eric Bruce (Wilmington), Jayquan Butcher (Dover), Timothy Jones (Wilmington), Jeffrey Marconi (Hockessin), David McElrath (Wilmington), Anthony Thomas (Wilmington), Elerece Thomas (Dover), Jerome Watson (Seaford); Head Coach Kevin Koerner (Townsend), Assistant Coach Ed Capodanno (Wilmington), Assistant Coach Scott Tamblyn (Newark).
Bocce: Nicole Baker (Newark), Rory DiLouie (Lewes), Charles Permint (Milford), Kimberly Strunk (Milford); Head Coach Pamela Cannon (Harrington).
Bowling: Allen Burke (Millsboro), Matthew Montgomery (Wilmington), Michele Ogden (Bear), Devin Wineland (Milton); Head Coach Rose Dagg (Newark).
Powerlifting: Sterling Johnson (Newark); Head Coach Terry Lemper (Townsend).
Swimming: Christine Arancio (Ocean View), Austin Archer (Wilmington), Kristen Hanifee (Millsboro), Brian Perry (Frederica); Head Coach Diana Behrens (Newark).
Tennis: Katya Bowers (Millville), Carl Williams (Newark); Head Coach Jill Wallace (Wilmington).
Track & Field: Jillian Mathews (Felton), Deshawn Scye (Laurel), Christi Theron (Wilmington), Steven Turner (Newark); Head Coach Kylie Lavelle (Wilmington).
Youth Leadership Experience: Ammar McNair (Camden-Wyoming), Alex Failing (Dover); Nate Threatts, mentor, SODE Manager of Unified Champion Schools (Dover).
Athletes were selected for Team Delaware based on their performances at the most recent state-level competitions. Athletes winning gold medals in the sport for which they applied were then randomly selected with the exception of basketball, which held an open tryout.
Coaches were selected through an application process.
“Attending a USA Games is a great achievement for any Special Olympics athlete,” said Ann Grunert, executive director of Special Olympics Delaware. “It is a reflection on their commitment to their sport and their willingness to put the necessary work in during the months leading up to the Games while preparing to perform on what will be the biggest stage of their athletic careers.”
Official delegates include head delegate, Kylie Frazer of Bear, state director of sports; assistant head Cheryl Talmo of Newark, state director of sports training and health; and team fitness coordinator Rob Bailey of Millsboro, Sussex area director.
The 2022 games are expected to be the largest humanitarian event in Florida’s history with more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean, with 125,000 family members, friends and spectators attended.
More than 10,000 volunteers will fill more than 20,000 volunteer shifts during the week.
The games will include 30 events at world-class venues across Orlando with a focal point at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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