Sporting KC signs sixteen players to the Special Olympics Unified Team


Sporting Kansas City is a club that provides thrilling moments on the pitch, but on Tuesday, April 23, Sporting KC was able to provide an exciting moment off the pitch. Families, players, and coaching staff assembled at Compass Minerals National Performance Center for this year’s Special Olympics Unified Signing Day. The Unified squad gathered with their families and friends to sign their official contract with Sporting Kansas City for the 2024 season. As the players gathered you could feel the giddy excitement in the air.

The players arrived at the Media Studio, where they were presented with their Hoops Kit, which had their name and number on the back. Lexie Clark, Executive Director of the Victory Project, and Declan Jogi, Director of the SKC Academy, welcomed the guests to the signing ceremony.

Then came the big moment, one by one, the Unified Squad members went up and signed their contract. As each player walked up, they were met with applause and shouts of joy from teammates, families, and friends alike. Signing the contract was just the beginning for these young athletes. After signing their contract, they were given the Sporting KC First team experience and began their “hype shoot.” Similar to the first team, each player took their official headshot, followed by a greenscreen shoot where the players were tasked to show off their goal celebration, walk-on pose, and more.

Sporting KC’s Special Olympics Unified Team Ambassador Chris Rindov was in attendance throughout the hype shoot, cheering on each player as they went through a similar shoot he himself went through during preseason. This is Rindov’s first year as one of the ambassadors for the Special Olympics Unified team, a task he wanted to take part in as soon as he heard of the opportunity.

“I think, really, for me,” Rindov shared. “Obviously, coming into my second year, you know, the first year was more so about kind of adjusting to KC life, but once I knew I was coming back, I kind of wanted to get more involved in the community. And I thought, what better way than trying to help out and be a part of what looks like an amazing Special Olympics team? So, it's, it was really exciting when they asked if I wanted to be one, and I was like, of course, more than welcome to.”

“Honestly, it just reminds me of when I was signing the first time last year,” Rindov continued. And then, even this year, we went through the hype shoot. I mean, it's one of the fun times where you get to kind of let loose a little bit before the season starts and kind of get the enjoyment out and get the hype setting once the season is set to start.”

Sporting KC Special Olympics Unified Signing Day

The 2024 Unified Team consists of Cohen Nimz, Isaiah Adcox, Boston Wendt, Gentry Scheid, Jayden Depierro, Angel Castillo, Joe Toland, German Castillo, Matthew Braithwaite, Tayber Witt, Joshua Toplikar, Antonio Romero, Jaydn Morris, Conner Schonlaw, Jordan Bauswell, and Owen Leffert.

The team also features two brothers, German and Angel Castillo. The Castillo brothers, accompanied by their mother Veronica Castillo, shared their excitement for this season during the team meal. German, the Unified Team’s new number nine, expressed his excitement about sharing the pitch with his brother Angel.

“I have no words,” German said. It’s a beautiful feeling. When you’re little, you dream about living moments like this, and sharing this with my brother is the best.”

This event was special for all in attendance, as they got to witness these players' dreams come true. Veronica Castillo got to cheer on both her boys as they signed their first soccer contract. Reminiscing on their past, Castillo became emotional, thinking of how far her boys had come.

“I feel so proud,” Castillo shared. I’m the proudest mother in the world. My two boys have always grown up very close. My son, German, started playing soccer at around six years old, and Angel was always there with him, cheering him on. Now it’s German’s turn to cheer on his brother.”

There is a lot to look forward to with the Special Olympics Unified team. This season Sporting’s Unified squad will play away and at home against Minnesota United FC’s Special Olympics Unified Team. Sporting will travel to Minnesota on May 31 for a doubleheader. Sporting’s first team will face Minnesota United at Allianz Field at 7:30 PM CT; once the match finishes, both Unified teams will face off for their first match of the season. The excitement only continues as both teams return home to prepare for their second match-up on September 21 when Minnesota United and their Unified team come to Children’s Mercy Park in the second doubleheader of the season.

“100%, I mean, it's always one of those things where you want to see a KC team win,” Rindov said. "So, especially when it's another Sporting KC team and obviously going to play Minnesota, it'll be awesome. The goal will be to have fun, but you know, at the end of the day, we want to win, and I know the team will want to win. So, it's exciting, very exciting.”

Follow Sporting KC’s Special Olympics Unified Team and their journey throughout this season and mark your calendars for their home match against Minnesota United on September 21, secure your spot today!