Let the Games Begin!
Led by the Unified golf pair of Wake Mullins and Unified partner Dennis Gaines, Team Kentucky marched proudly into Exploria Stadium – the home of the Orlando City FC of MLS and the Orlando Pride of the NWSL – for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games this morning. They were joined by more than 5,500 athletes from all 50 states and several Caribbean countries.
The Opening Ceremony was everything you would expect in Orlando and organized by Disney. There were dance routines both on the stage and among the crowd. The National Anthem was sung by Broadway star Michael James Scott — best known as Genie in Disney’s Aladdin musical. The Ceremonies also got a visit from everybody’s favorite Disney characters.
You can watch the Opening Ceremony on demand on ESPN3.
After the cauldron was lit by Special Olympics Florida Ironman triathlete Chris Nikic, athletes and coaches were treated to more fun after a short walk across the street to the Orlando Magic’s home – the Amway Center. Expecting just to go in to grab lunch, everyone was treated to much more. Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley. Then the Magic mascot Stuff led some cheers. The big surprise of the day was a visit by some of the World-Famous Harlem Globetrotters. Four Globetrotters wowed the crowd with their traditional ballhandling, trick shots and humor. Team Kentucky gymnast Aliya White was selected by Globetrotter “Torch” George to take the court, learn a few skills and take part in the Trotter’s legendary “Magic Circle.”
After the Globetrotters Team Kentucky returned to its base at the Disney All-Star Music resort to prepare for the first day of competition at the Games.
Tomorrow at the USA Games
Before the competition begins, gymnast Lee Dockins of Russellville will be one of several gymnasts at the Games featured on Good Morning America. Dockins will be on between 7:30 & 8:50 am ET/6:30-7:50 CT performing parts of her USA Games floor routines.
Most of Team Kentucky will be in action tomorrow.
At the track, Caitlin Roy of Finchville, who is the only member of the track delegation, will be looking to add to her medal collection when she runs the 400 meters – the only one of her three events she didn’t medal in at the 2018 Games. Trevor Yates of Shepherdsville will run the 1500 meters. Kevin Rates of Hawesville will compete in the long jump.
Both Unified golf teams will open competition with their first rounds at the Orange County National Golf Center. Wake Mullins and Dennis Gaines of Lexington will be competing in the 18-hole alternate shot event on the Crooked Cat Course. Bryan Cheely and his brother and Unified partner Kevin will compete in the 9-hole alternate shot event on the Panther Lake course.
The three Team Kentucky bocce athletes will have two singles matches each tomorrow. Amy Butler of Almo and Kym Dickamore of Murray both have matches at 9:45 and 10:55. Rockport’s Torrey Thompson is in the afternoon session, competing at 3:25 and 4.
The Team Kentucky flag football team will open competition bright and early tomorrow with an 8 am game against Maryland.
Our Intercollegiate Unified basketball team will also play an early game, facing off against North Carolina at 8:30.
You can follow all the Team Kentucky action all week long on soky.org, or on any of our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Photos will be posted every day on our Flickr site. You can also download the USA Games app for either iPhone or Android and keep up with Team Kentucky there.
For more information about Team Kentucky or about the USA Games contact Mark Buerger at 859-338-6075 or [email protected].