Local Athletes and Coach to Represent Team Wisconsin at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games
Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) selected Kenny Kostanski, Rebecca Stepflug and Coach Rita Stelpflug of Menomonee Falls to represent Team Wisconsin at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in Princeton, New Jersey on June 14-21, 2014. Wisconsin athletes will compete in athletics, aquatics, bocce, bowling, flag football, gymnastics, powerlifting and volleyball.
Kostanski has competed in Special Olympics aquatics, basketball, bowling, flag football, golf, and volleyball for the past 10 years, but this will be his first time attending the Special Olympics USA Games. He said he was encouraged to attend an event at the national level after performing well at the SOWI State Games.
“Special Olympics makes me feel like a champion because I practice and work hard to be stronger and healthier. I used to be overweight,” he said. “Special Olympics helped me lose weight.”
In addition to improving his health, Kostanski said he has experienced many social benefits from participating in Special Olympics.
“It has given me many new friends and sports to look forward to participating in with my teammates,” he said. “I am so excited to meet people from other states.”
When he is not competing or training, Kostanski works at the Community Memorial Hospital in Environmental Services. Kostanski will compete in aquatics.
Stelpflug has competed in Special Olympics Wisconsin aquatics, basketball, flag football, golf, volleyball, and snowshoeing for the past 13 years. Stelpflug previously attended the 2010 Special Olympics USA Games in Lincoln, Nebraska and the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece.
“Special Olympics makes me feel I can do anything I want to!” said Stelpflug. “[Special Olympics has changed my life] because it has improved my social communication skills and granted me an opportunity to train and compete in many sports year-round.”
Stelpflug said this is a chance of a lifetime and she is looking forward to meeting athletes from other states. According to Stelpflug, her mother Rita adopted her from Peru when she was just four-months-old and has been her biggest cheerleader. When she isn’t competing or training, Stelpflug works at Marquette University Dental School as a Sterilization Technician .Stelpflug will compete in flag football.
Stepflug’s mother, Rita, has been very involved in the organization and has coached athletes bowling, aquatics, golf, flag football, snowshoeing and team basketball. She will serve as the Head Coach in bowling and will be one of 86 delegates representing Team Wisconsin at the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey.
As a certified SOWI clinician, she has also worked with athletes to improve their skill sets and advance in competition.
“As a coach, I have watched athletes develop skills and obtain personal bests they can be truly proud of,” she said. “I believe Special Olympics is more than just sports training – it also helps our athletes experience friendship, independence, confidence.”
Coach Stelpflug, who works as a Field Representative at the Department of Commerce, attended the 2010 USA Games as a volunteer; this will mark her first appearance as a coach.
SOWI will host an official training camp for Team Wisconsin athletes on May 17-18, 2014 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The 2014 USA Games will showcase the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities, promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport, and celebrate the transformative power of Special Olympics. A total of 3,500 athletes, 1,000 coaches and delegates, 10,000 volunteers and 70,000 spectators will attend.
Sports competition will be held at venues throughout Mercer County, New Jersey, including Princeton University, Rider University, The College of New Jersey, Mercer County Park and several area private schools. There will be ample opportunities for supporters across the state to show their spirit and join the team through volunteerism, donations and attendance. For more information or to learn more about how you can support a local athlete, visit www.SpecialOlympicsWisconsin.org.
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