Southern California Delegation Set for 2018 USA Games

LONG BEACH, Calif. (June 29, 2017) – A year from now, more than 70,000 will descend on Seattle, Wash., to celebrate the awe-inspiring abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games held July 1-6, 2018. Among the 3,500 athletes that will compete in the USA Games will be 70 from Special Olympics Southern California.

Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) has officially announced its delegation for the USA Games. This will be the largest delegation of athletes sent from SOSC and it represents a wide range of demographics that make Southern California so unique.

Athletes come from all nine regions making up the SOSC footprint, representing cities from Anaheim (swimmer Hayden Chrastka) to Yucca Valley (bocce teammates Cara Pepe and Tina Phipps). In total, there are 33 cities represented. The delegation representatives range in age from 16 (swimmer Steven Espinoza from Garden Grove) to 63 (softball player Paul Lapre from Compton). And for the first time, the delegation includes a pair of high school unified teams.

Here are the Southern California Special Olympics representatives for the 2018 USA Games (by sport):

Athletics (Hometown, Age) – Region
Ashlee Bahr (Saugus, CA; 25) – Santa Clarita Valley & Tri-Valley Region
Krystal Johnson (Fontana, CA; 28) – Inland Empire Region
Sarah Kovacs – Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Region
Brett Laza (Phelan, CA; 25) – Inland Empire Region
James Morrell (Temple City, CA; 21) – Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Region
Jennifer Palacios (Norwalk, CA; 35) – Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Region
Anthony Rodela (San Gabriel, CA; 18) – Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Region
Jesus Salazar (Oxnard, CA; 23) – Ventura County Region
Robert Waters (Torrance, CA; 62) – Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Region

Basketball (Hometown, Age) – Region
Fabiola Aceves (Montclair, CA; 29) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Terra Clendening (Chino Hills, CA; 26) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Jennifer Eckles (Montclair, CA; 29) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Danielle Moore (La Verne, CA; 26) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Alexandra Steen (Covina, CA; 29) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Nihan Uslu (Covina, CA; 26) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Antoinette Valencia (Ontario, CA; 35) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Bernadette Valencia (Ontario, CA; 35) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region

Bocce (Hometown, Age) – Region
Jennifer Ali (Johsua Tree, CA; 34) – Inland Empire Region
Amanda Maling (Joshua Tree, CA; 42) – Inland Empire Region
Cara Pepe (Yucca Valley, CA; 25) – Inland Empire Region
Tina Phipps (Yucca Valley, CA; 22) – Inland Empire Region

Golf (Hometown, Age) – Region
Kyle Aragon (Van Nuys, CA; 23) – Santa Clarita Valley & Tri-Valley Region
Kent Menendez (Cardiff, CA; 27) – San Diego County Region

Softball (Hometown, Age) – Region
Krysten Augustine (Long Beach, CA; 39) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Brett Crane (Bellflower, CA; 28) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Tyler Cribbs (Lakewood, CA; 24) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Johnny Dixon (Lakewood, CA; 28) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Andrew Gates (Long Beach, CA; 26) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Bryan Gordon (Norwalk, CA; 23) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Derrick Keeton (South Gate, CA; 34) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Paul Lapre (Compton, CA; 63) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Matthew Lawrence (Long Beach, CA; 23) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Samuel Mesa (Norwalk, CA; 57) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Matthew Morse (Long Beach, CA; 26) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Joseph Phillips (Long Beach, CA; 23) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Dustin Plunkett (Paramount, CA; 36) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Travis Ridley (Long Beach, CA; 49) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Cornelius Washington (South Gate, CA; 36) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region

Swimming (Hometown, Age) – Region
Dawn Albritton (Bakersfield, CA; 20) – Kern County Region
Hayden Chrastka (Anaheim, CA; 25) – Orange County Region
Steven Espinoza (Garden Grove, CA; 16) – Orange County Region
Nicolette Jones (Temecula, CA; 18) – Inland Empire Region
Lisa Koskovich (Los Angeles, CA; 28) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Nicholas Laguna (Long Beach, CA; 17) – Orange County Region
Jonathan Pierce (Torrance, CA; 23) – Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Region
Christina Principe (Jamul, CA; 39) – San Diego County Region
Ethan Tran (Garden Grove, CA; 16) – Orange County Region
Kiana Kiwi Yep (Lancaster, CA; 21) – Santa Clarita Valley and Tri-Valley Region

Tennis(Hometown, Age) – Region
Michael Roth (Encinitas, CA; 30) – Santa Barbara Country Region
Heidi Sand (Carlsbad, CA; 30) – San Diego Country Region

Unified High School Competition
Lompoc High School (Unified Basketball) – Santa Barbara County Region
Southwest High School (Unified Soccer) – San Diego Country Region

“I am so excited for the 70 athletes selected to represent SOSC at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.  I can personally attest that this experience will be one of the biggest highlights of each athlete’s life,” said Bill Shumard, CEO and President of SOSC. “Their opportunity to compete on a national stage, along with making new friends from across the nation, will be invaluable.”

The USA Games, which takes place every four years and was held in New Jersey in 2014, will not only showcase the talents of the athletes but will also promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport, and celebrate the transformative power of Special Olympics.

“The 2018 Special Olympics 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,” said Beth Knox, President and CEO, 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

Seattle will welcome the 3,500 athletes from across the country as they compete in 16 different sports (aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball, standup paddle boarding, tennis and volleyball). In addition, Seattle will also host more than 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers, 10,000 family members, and 50,000 fans.

“The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be the most significant sporting event to come to Seattle since the 1990 Goodwill Games,” said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle.

Athletes from SOSC will compete in aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, soccer, softball, and tennis. The Law Enforcement Torch Run begins the USA Games on June 27, 2018 with Welcome Day set for June 30, 2018. Opening Ceremonies will be held July 1, 2018 at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. Other venues include Seattle University, King County Aquatic Center, Willows Run Golf Club, Celebration Park (Federal Way), and Kenmore Lanes.

ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, and leadership programs. Special Olympics helps athletes become more independent, build self-esteem, and live healthier lives. They inspire people to open their hearts and create more accepting and inclusive communities. All Special Olympics programs are free to the athletes and their families. Learn more at www.sosc.org.

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