What They’re Saying at the 2017 Fall Games – Day 1

Every Fall Games competition brings together a wide array of athletes, coaches and volunteers. Here’s what some of them had to say during the first day of competition at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center and Sports Park:

Cody Stelling

Cody Stelling, Simi Valley Stars softball athlete

“I learned about Special Olympics and thought it was a great opportunity. I wanted to join. The atmosphere and people are awesome. Special Olympics has changed my life because I am more committed now than I was before. I learned about teamwork and working with others.”

Cody Stelling, 22, softball athlete (first baseman) who plays for the Simi Valley Stars and has been an athlete for two years

“I enjoy Special Olympics because I’m a good player and my teammates like me. I used to play T-ball and my dad was the coach, and then I learned about Special Olympics because the regional center told me about it. I exercise every day; I do aerobics to prep for softball.”

Elva Murillo, softball athlete (first baseman) from Los Angeles

“I like Special Olympics because I make new friends and we have team spirit. I have fun and I’m with other people. My favorite memory is the World Games in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1999; that was special.”

Robert Waters, soccer athlete (defender) from Torrance who has been an athlete for 29 years

Trent Haas

Trent Haas, left, soccer athlete from Riverside

“The idea to finally be able to play soccer (is important to me).”

Trent Haas, 31, soccer athlete (goalkeeper) from Riverside who has been an athlete for four years

“I was a coach and then I started playing. I have two sons playing soccer today. Special Olympics has changed my life because I lost the weight I needed to for diabetes. I’m now very athletic since retiring. There is more excitement since I retired; I’m not as bored. I like going to the games and meeting new people.”

Janet Guibar of South Bay Torrance’s Bump it Up volleyball team who has been involved for 15 years as an athlete and coach

“My mom introduced me to Special Olympics. My sister also plays tennis, and I also do track and field and swimming. I’ve done the Torch Run, Tip-A-Cop and Polar Plunge. I am also a Global Messenger. Special Olympics is fun and it helps people with disabilities. It has taught me to not judge people. If you are healthy you can do more, and Special Olympics helps me stay healthy.”

Alina Ford, 17, tennis athlete from Tri-Valley who also has a sister, Lilia, whose coach Patrick does cartwheels whenever she does well

“(Volunteering has) completely enriched my happiness.”

Felicia Ambrosia, tennis venue volunteer from Ontario who has been involved for six years

“I wanted to see how the athletes perform. I love the game of soccer. (The athletes show) it’s important to work as a team. I get excited to watch them, and they inspire me to play soccer.”

Kervin Lopez, 11, from Los Angeles who came out to watch and support the athletes

Shayan Rahimimanesh and mother Gilla Ghorbani

Shayan Rahimimanesh, left, and mother/coach Gilla Ghorbani

“[Shayan] was 2 years old when he had to have open heart surgery. The doctors didn’t know if he would survive… but now he’s social and very active, much more active than my non-disabled sons. He even takes classes at the community college.”

Gilla Ghorbani, tennis coach from Burbank whose son, Shayan Rahimimanesh, competes for Tri-Valley

“Playing the All-Star Game for L.A. Galaxy, all the hard work paid off.”

Jose Conde, 20, who plays for Special Olympics Southern California’s LAFC soccer team and the L.A. Galaxy Unified team

“Spiking the ball is the best feeling. (Also), I am the least selfish guy ever and it is because of Special Olympics.”

Colby Marsh, 18, who plays volleyball for the Garden Grove Rebels

“My mom supports me and I have fun. I learn teamwork and how to communicate with not only my team, but myself. It has made me independent.”

Sunsana Rienn, 24, soccer athlete from Ocean Vista 

“The best part is working with the athletes. It’s an eye-opener to see what goes on with them here at the event. It makes it worthwhile, it’s rewarding.”

De Wiley, volunteer working in the Rafer’s Boutique souvenir shop 

  1. […] For more thoughts from athletes, coaches and volunteers, catch up on what they were saying on Day 1 at Fall Games. […]


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