Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2011 USA Gymnastics Special Olympics Championships

Just a reminder that the 2011 USA Gymnastics Special Olympics Championships are fast approaching!  The competition, which will be held Saturday, May 7th, in Marietta, GA, is being held by USA Gymnastics and Special Olympics North America.  It is the first event of its kind so we encourage all members of Special Olympics Team USA gymnastics to participate if possible!  However, registration is due soon. Full details about the competition are available here: 

We hope to see you there!

Congratulations to Mark Medora!

Congratulations to Mark Medora who was recently profiled by his local news station.  The news station interviewed him about being a member of Special Olympics Team USA gymnastics.  The video is available here:

Great job Mark!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Training Camp!

Greetings from San Diego!!

Although most of us are currently either already at the airport or on our way there, we had a great time in San Diego.  We had a great time and are sad to leave, but we are very happy to be returning to our family and friends.

Training camp began on Sunday with every member of Team USA gymnastics flying to San Diego with their respective State delegation.  Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania delegation had some hiccups in their journey - they were rerouted through Dallas, Denver, and Las Vegas before they were finally able to join us at about midnight.  Thank you to Team USA gymnasts Mark and Jeanette for hanging in there during their long journey!

For the rest of us who arrived earlier on Sunday, we all met our new coaches and teammates at dinner that night.  It was great to get everyone together, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones (Mandy, Lee, Coach Mary, and Coach Glen were all together at the last World Games in China).  After dinner, we all went to our rooms for a good night's sleep to prepare for our upcoming training sessions!

On Monday morning, we ate a healthy breakfast and headed over to Oceanside gymnastics.  We warmed up and played a game to get everything going.  Then we split up into groups and began concentrating on gymnastics!  In addition to working on our skills, we also did yoga, zumba, and learned about sign language with Coach Mary, and Monica, and nutrition with our Sport Managers Jen and Amber.  We took a break to have some delicious Subway sandwiches for lunch and then kept practicing for the rest of the afternoon.  It was a long day but everyone worked very hard!

On Monday evening, Team USA put on a fashion show.   Team USA gymnastics was represented by Lee, wearing general Team USA wear, as well as Monica and Colby, who modeled our competitive wear for gymnastics.  Everyone loved our leotards and warm ups - an extra special thank you to Coach Mary for all her hard work with GK and Snowflake who donated them!  Also, an extra special thank you to the rest of our gymnasts who cheered on their teammates and did a great job supporting Lee, Monica, and Colby.

Tuesday, we headed back to the gym for more practice.  We learned about the importance of being a team, Jen taught us all about Greece, and we also practiced more zumba, especially Coach Glen!  We once again had Subway for lunch and more practice in the afternoon.  We even had a dance party in the vans on the way back to our hotel.

Tuesday night, we attended a San Diego State University baseball game.  This was exciting for all of us but especially for Jan, who had never been to a baseball game before.  After the game, we headed back to bed to rest up for our final day of practice.

Wednesday, we had a "mock meet."  Some local gymnastics coaches, including the owner of Oceanside gymnastics, watched our routines and gave us some tips and feedback on what we can continue to improve on as we prepare for Greece.  We also got to wear our new Team USA leotards!

On Wednesday night, we returned to State mode and saw a slideshow of all the Team USA sports and Greece at dinner.  We enjoyed traditional Greek dancers and music.  Each sport also performed a Team USA cheer, and Team USA gymnastics received second place for their stellar performance!  We were all very proud of this award.

Speaking of awards . . . several were given out during the week.  Coach Mary brought a "spirit bear" that was awarded to the gymnast who demonstrated hard work and positive attitude at each training session.  The spirit bear was awarded to Monica, Mark, Emily, Mandy, Jan, and Jeanette.  Great job!!

We also had a "smile" award for the athletes who also kept a positive, upbeat attitude and encouraged their teammates throughout practice.  Recipients of these awards were Shailah and Colby. 

Wednesday night finished up with a dance and everyone going to bed to head to the airport early.

We'll update more when we arrive back home and more photos will follow.

Thanks again for a great time everyone!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meet the Team

Glen Marks, Coach (Arlington Heights, Illinois)

Coach Glen has owned Elk Grove Gymnastics School for 26 years.  Some of his many accomplishments include being the 2000 Jr. Pan American Games Coach; the 2006 Special Olympics Team Illinois National Coach; the 2007 Special Olympics World Team USA coach in China; and being the 2009 winner of the 1st Tim Rand National Gymnastics Award.
In addition to gymnastics, Coach Glen enjoys spending time with his two dogs, Tom and Jerry (Springer Spaniels), and he also has a cat named Ben.  Coach Glen also loves to travel and has been to 6 Olympic games and 2 World Gymnastic Championships.  In addition, he has been a clinician at many conferences and Gymnastics Congress.  He also choreographed the men's floor and rings routine for Special Olympics that will be introduced in Greece this summer at the World Games.

DC Fundaiser

On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, Coach Rory hosted a fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics Team USA Gymnastics.  The fundraiser was a great success thanks in part to donations from fundraiser host Bobby Vans Grill, which donated their space, drinks and appetizers, and many local area businesses which donated raffle prizes.  All in all, approximately 100 people attended the event and nearly $2,000 was raised to benefit Team USA! Photos from the event are available below.


Congratulations to Coach Mary and Danielle Blakeney!

Congratulations to Coach Mary and Danielle Blakeney! 

The 2010 Special Olympics Kentucky Coach and Athlete of the Year Awards were presented in Louisville on Saturday, Jan. 29 as part of the ceremonies at the 2011 Inspire Greatness Gala.  Our very own Coach Mary was awarded Coach of the Year and Danielle Blakeney was awarded Athlete of the Year!  The full story of their achievements is available here: