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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Chicago Fire, and Special Olympics Illinois Introduce Members of Unified Soccer All-Star Team

Squad will compete in Portland in conjunction with Fire road match

CHICAGO (April 3, 2015)—Selections have been made, and a newly formed soccer club is ready to thrive in Chicago.
The Chicago Fire and Special Olympics Illinois introduced on Friday members of their inaugural Unified Soccer All-Star team, a squad composed of Illinois-based teens with and without intellectual disabilities. Over the next four months, the team will train together in preparation for a matchup with Special Olympics Oregon, which will be held in conjunction with the Chicago Fire First Team’s Aug. 7 road match at Portland Timbers.
With more than half a million participants worldwide, Unified Sports initiatives seek to break down stereotypes in a fun and empowering athletic environment. Unified Sports soccer matches feature 5v5 competition, with each side represented by three athletes and two partners.
“Special Olympics Illinois is grateful to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club for allowing our athletes the opportunity to compete on the same stage as their professional athletes,” said Jen Marcello, Director of Young Athletes with Special Olympics Illinois. “Through the Unified Soccer All-Star Team we are thrilled to showcase the abilities of athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities and strive to drive home the importance of sportsmanship, respect and teamwork.
On Saturday (March 28), candidates from around Chicagoland and central Illinois turned out to The PrivateBank Fire Pitch to participate in tryouts. Athletes were put through their paces by a coaching staff comprised of Paul Cadwell, Chicago Fire Director of Soccer and Team Development, and Special Olympics Unified Coaches David Dore and Julie Phelan.
Following tryouts, the coaching staff named a team of six athletes and four partners, who will come together for their first official practice April 11 at Toyota Park. The group will receive training from Fire players and coaches, as well as Special Olympics instructors, throughout their preparations.
In addition to their August road trip to Portland, the Unified Sports team also will be recognized in a special send-off event during the Fire’s June 24 home match against D.C. United.
Additional information on the Special Olympics Unified Sports program can be found here.
2015 Chicago Fire & Special Olympics Unified Sports Team
Athletes:                                  Partners:                                                   School:
Joshua Banty                           Andy Torres                                 School District 23
Mackenzie Carlson                  Brenna Poncin                             Normal West H.S.
Adam Letcher                          Gerardo Valencia                   Hoffman Estates H.S.
Ryan McDonough                                                                 Waubonsie Valley H.S.
Warren Richards                     Jared Joekstra               Homewood Floosmoor H.S.
Nathan Simmons                                                                           Normal West H.S.
Paul Cadwell – Chicago Fire Director of Soccer & Team Development
David Dore – Special Olympics Unified Coaches
Julie Phelan – Special Olympics Unified Coaches
 * informatiom from Chicago Fire communication office

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