It is the dream of many children to grow up and be a professional athlete. Some get the chance to live out their dream but many don't. The Special Olympics organization gives athletes facing intellectual disabilities the same opportunities in sports that their peers have. One way in which the organization does this is through Unified Sports.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is a program that brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and their peers without intellectual disabilities (called partners) on the same team for training and competition. Age and ability matching of athletes and partners is defined on a sport-by-sport basis.
On Sunday, a Unified Team from Special Olympics Kansas and a Unified Team from Special Olympics Colorado will play each other in an exchange game at Swope Soccer Village (6310 Lewis Rd., Kansas City, Missouri). MLS WORKS, the league’s Community Relations arm, started this new initiative in 2013 and has many MLS teams participating around the league. Each exchange game features Unified Teams from the local Special Olympics chapters.
Each team will exchange gifts and good luck cards, which is a Special Olympics tradition to encourage good sportsmanship. They will also get a full pre-game ritual of warm-ups on the field, lineup announcements and a national anthem, also reflecting a professional atmosphere. Once the game has ended, the players will each receive a commemorative medal during an on-field ceremony.
Last year, the Unified Team from Special Olympics Kansas (a Sporting Club Network member) traveled to New York to play an exchange game vs Special Olympics New Jersey at Red Bull Arena. They arrived a day early and had a couple of surprises in store, including a baseball game in Yankee Stadium to watch the Kansas City Royals take on the New York Yankees. This year both the Unified Teams were out at The K on Friday night to watch the Royals take on the Yankees again.
Sporting Park is known for its infectious energy on game days. This past Saturday it was home to a different kind of energy when The Victory Project hosted its inaugural Yoga on the Pitch fundraiser.
Over 150 local yoga enthusiasts of all ages and levels joined Sporting KC players in an hour-long class in the middle of the pitch. Yoga was led by lululemon athletica ambassadors and Pop-Up Yoga KC with funds raised benefitting both The Victory Project and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society through Man of the Year Candidate Hunter Re.
Participants received a commemorative event tank top and were also able to get autographs from Sporting KC players in attendance, including Graham Zusi, Jacob Peterson, Krisztian Nemeth, Servando Carrasco and Bernardo Anor.
To learn more about The Victory Project and future fundraising events, please visit VictoryKC.org or follow us on Twitter.
Covitz accepting the Joe McGuff Sports Journalist of the Year Award in 2011
Congratulations and well wishes to Kansas City Star sports reporter Randy Covitz on his recent retirement.
During his 34-year career at the newspaper, Covitz's byline appeared next to many of the most memorable moments in the city's modern soccer history -- from covering the Comets and Attack at Kemper Arena to writing about the Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium to stories filed on deadline from Sporting Park.
He sat in the Soldier Field press box for the opening game of the 1994 World Cup and traveled to Detroit the next day for the United States first match at the Pontiac Silverdome. He delivered the news to Star readers that Kansas City was awarded a Major League Soccer team in 1995 and his preview piece ran on the day of the team's inaugural game less than a year later.
On this day in 1996, Covitz published an in-depth look at American soccer on the cusp of Major League Soccer's first season. The article included interviews with club owner/founder Lamar Hunt, as well as Ron Newman (the first coach in MLS history), on the return of professional outdoor soccer to Kansas City for the first time since 1970 when the Kansas City Spurs played in the NASL.
"Times have changed enormously," said Hunt. "...It won't be done overnight, but it's a different time, a different era."
Click here to read the full feature.
Covitz continued to cover the sport and it's local stars in recent years, from Peter Vermes being named manager in 2009 to his induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013 -- after previously reporting on the Hall of Fame elections of Preki (2010) and Bob Gansler (2011) in the years between.
Prior to joining the Kansas City Star, Covitz served as the Columbia Missourian sports editor and spent seven years on staff at the Memphis Press-Scimitar in Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism in 1971.
The Sporting Club Network (SCN), presented by Price Chopper, is excited to announce the #1Crest1Club contest, presented by Chipotle, has started up for the spring season! Starting today, SCN members have the ability to participate in this online contest giving them the chance to win Chipotle gift cards or tickets to a Sporting KC match.
At Sporting KC -- and within SCN -- we believe that we are all a part of one big club, from the professionals playing at Sporting Park to the recreational teams playing across the Midwest. Network members and Sporting KC players both wear the Sporting Club patch on their jerseys to signify how we are all represented by the same crest.
Here is where the fun comes in, and we are looking for some real creativity this year. All you have to do is snap a picture that clearly includes the SCN Price Chopper patch on your jersey. This can be a group shot after a game, at the beach on vacation or even a selfie in the stands at Sporting Park! We want to see where you enjoy representing the Sporting Club crest.
Once you get the perfect picture, send it into the SCN on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @SportingKC_SCN and using the #1Crest1Club hashtag. Each day (Monday-Friday), Sporting KC staff members will choose a daily winner at 6 p.m. CT. These winners will receive a Chipotle gift card.
Once the contest ends on April 10, the 20 daily winners will be narrowed down to the top three. The contest will then move to a vote via SCN social media accounts for the grand prize. The grand prize voting will run from April 10-12 and the winner will be announced on April 13! This grand prize winner will receive a tour of Sporting Park before the game and two tickets in the Victory Suite for the Sporting KC match on May 3rd against Chicago Fire.
— Track Sweeper (@TrackSweeper) March 8, 2015
The Sporting Club Network, presented by Price Chopper, will be releasing their 2015 Calendar of Events soon. Sporting Club Network members have access to exclusive events, contests and a myriad of other experiences offered throughout the year, otherwise unavailable to non-members. Before the much anticipated release of the 2015 Calendar of Events, let's take a look back at the top 10 SCN events from 2014:
- Follow the #MLSCupTour throughout the Midwest
- Spring #AcademyAffiliate All-Star Experience
- SKC celebrates Earth Day with Recycle Your Game Clinic
- Carter Knox: Sporting KC’s youngest reporter
- SCN #ForClubAndCountry World Cup Contest
- SCN hosts annual Reception & Kevin Gray Awards ceremony
- Academy Affiliate Weekend provides one-of-a-kind experience for youth players
- SCN re-launches #1Crest1Club campaign w/ Chipotle
- SCN introduces new multi-sport clinic
- Fall 2014 SCN Coaching Education
The Sporting Club Network is excited to be able to offer members another great year of exclusive events. For details on this year's Calendar of Events and all other happenings in the Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow the SCN on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Interested in joining the Sporting Club Network to gain access to exciting events like these? Contact Liam O’Connell at email@example.com.
The offseason is officially over. Sporting KC players report to Kansas City today in time for entrance physicals at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday and a flight to Tucson, Arizona on Sunday for the first of two training camps (Jan. 25 - Feb. 10 and Feb. 15 - March 1) in The Old Pueblo.
And while we'll keep #SKCNation updated with all the latest preseason news and notes right here on SportingKC.com, social media is the must-follow source for banter and behind-the-scenes access as we count down the days until the team's season opener on March 8.
STAFF TWITTER ACCOUNTS
|Robb Heineman (CEO)||Follow @RobbHeinaman|
|Ashley Wallace (performance analyst)||Follow @AshWallace12|
|Mike Flaherty (equipment manager)||Follow @KitManSKC|
|Brian Ubert (massage therapist)||Follow @ubiewon|
|Jonathan Kaplan (communications/digital manager)||Follow @happykappy7|
|Kurt Austin (communications/digital manager)||Follow @kaustin01|
PLAYER TWITTER & INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS
|Saad Abdul-Salaam||Follow @Saad_Abdul||saad_abdul3|
|Jalil Anibaba||Follow @jalil_anibaba4||jalil_anibaba4|
|Bernardo Anor||Follow @BernardoAnor||bernardoanor|
|Matt Besler||Follow @MattBesler||mattbesler|
|Amadou Dia||Follow @Amadou_iT11||amadou_it11|
|Dom Dwyer||Follow @Ddwyer14||ddwyer14|
|Benny Feilhaber||Follow @b_feilhaber22|
|Connor Hallisey||Follow @c_hallisey||c_hallisey|
|Jon Kempin||Follow @JonKempin21||jonkempin21|
|Mikey Lopez||Follow @MLopez12_5||mlopez12_5|
|Luis Marin||Follow @luis1marin|
|Jimmy Medranda||Follow @jimmymedranda||jimao7|
|Tim Melia||Follow @TimMelia28|
|Chance Myers||Follow @CR_Myers||cr_myers|
|Paulo Nagamura||Follow @paulinhonag|
|Ike Opara||Follow @ikeopara||ikennaopara|
|Erik Palmer-Brown||Follow @ErikBrown14||erikbrown44|
|Jacob Peterson||Follow @jacob__peterson||jacobpeterson23|
|Tony Rocha||Follow @TonyRocha16|
|Seth Sinovic||Follow @ssinovic||ssinovic|
|Graham Zusi||Follow @gzusi||gzusi|
On Friday, Seth Sinovic was a guest on 610 Sports Radio during a segment of Fescoe in the Morning. Sporting Kansas City's 2014 Defender of the Year discussed a variety of topics -- anticipation for the preseason, the arrival of Roger Espinoza and Major League Soccer's collective bargaining agreement, to name a few. Alongside hosts Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler, Sinovic also talked college basketball, the NFL Playoffs and prevailing over his teammates in fantasy football. Check out the podcast below for the full interview.
Helping children thrive through life’s challenges is the mission of The Victory Project. This year -- with the help of our players, coaches, staff and fans -- The Victory Project was able to impact the lives of many children in the Kansas City area through various programs and special events.
During the month of December, The Victory Project will countdown some of their favorite moments from the year. Follow @VictoryKC on Twitter and @VictoryProjectKC on Instagram to relive the memorable events and experiences. And if you have a favorite moment, please share on social media or in the comments section below.
To learn more about The Victory Project, visit VictoryKC.org.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Top of the list. That's where Sporting Park lands in Stadium Journey magazine's evaluation of the best stadium experiences in Major League Soccer.
Released earlier today, the rankings are based on the following factors: food/beverage, atmosphere, location, fans, access and overall return on investment. Stadium Journey correspondent Cory Sims reviewed the state-of-the-art stadium earlier this year, writing that it is "one of the best venues to watch a sporting event of any kind."
Sporting Kansas City's home field earned the No. 1 spot over a trio of Cascadia challengers. Providence Park (Portland Timbers), CenturyLink Field (Seattle Sounders) and BC Place (Vancouver Whitecaps) rounded out the top four.