The 2014 USA Games-An Experience Team Wisconsin will Remember for a Lifetime by Jason Blank, Powerlifting Coach

June 24, 2014

On Friday, competitions came to an end and all athletes at the Games celebrated a successful week at the Closing Ceremony at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ. The Closing Ceremony was a big party including musical guests, multiple presenters and videos. There was so much that happened during the ceremony; I’ll share a couple of highlights from my perspective. The message of the program was acceptance and “living unified”. There was a reading done by a Special Olympics athlete during the middle of the program. She was reading from a newspaper from 2030 talking about the USA Games from that year. The key message was the growth of the Special Olympics movement and its acceptance by people around the country. Another highlight from Closing Ceremony for me was at the very end. Representatives from a Team Pennsylvania Softball Team welcomed the next generation of Special Olympics, Young Athletes™ who attended the games, and gave each one of them a soccer ball as a symbolic passing of the torch to these athletes.

It is bittersweet to see the 2014 USA Games end. Its been a long week for the athletes and coaches, probably longer for the coaches, but there have been so many wonderful moments that made it worth it. I’m so proud of all the Team Wisconsin athletes! All of them put in a lot of hard work and it paid off at the games. There were countless personal bests, lots of medals and a lot of pride shown while competing. These accomplishments don’t come from one week of competition, it comes from years of training. I also noticed the great amount of sportsmanship shown by our team. From high fives on the medal stands to finding competitors in the cafeteria to tell them that they did a good job,. It brought everyone together. 

The week was eventful. We experienced the Opening Ceremony, a Minor League Baseball game, Dinner Cruise around the Statue of Liberty, Olympic Town, Healthy Athletes® and the Closing Ceremony. Those are all memorable in themselves. I think the real memories from our athletes will come from their determination, their accomplishments and the friendships they’ve made. This is an experience that everyone on Team Wisconsin will remember for a lifetime. 

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