This week, WeAreSOSC.org brings to you a brother tandem on the LA Galaxy Unified soccer team and a basketball enthusiast in the South Bay.
LA Galaxy Unified Opener
Danny Saucedo has been playing soccer his whole life. He is even more dedicated to support his brother, Armando, a Special Olympics athlete for the past three years.
The two are among the 20 players on the LA Galaxy Unified team, which posted a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo last Friday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
When asked about the shift from spectating to playing with his brother, Danny said, “I’ve traveled to San Diego, even Portland to watch my brother play. Now that I’m playing, it’s a better way to interact with him. I have nothing to prove but to help other people have fun.”
Before the LA Galaxy Unified team’s first match of the 2019 season, soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović approached them and asked, “Who’s the captain?”
Danny grinned, raised his hand and was met with a pleasant surprise – receiving Zlatan’s game-worn captain arm band.
It’s not often that a first-year player on a new team also receives the honor of being named captain – leave it up to Danny to make that happen.
“I was surprised to be chosen as a captain,” he said. “I go to practice; I don’t expect to get anything out of it like praise – but it was really cool. This one legend who happens to be in LA, who is right in front of us and he wants to give me his captain arm band. [Zlatan] is one of my favorite players. I play with him on FIFA (video games).”
When asked if he has a message for the Special Olympics community, “I encourage everyone to participate. It’s a new family, team and friends. This experience is priceless and you can’t get it anywhere else.”
The Saucedo brothers and LA Galaxy SOSC Unified team will play next in New York versus the Red Bulls Unified Team on Saturday, May 4.
Meet The General
Mead Duley, a 52-year-old Special Olympics Southern California athlete from Torrance, is known by his South Bay Sharpshooters basketball team as The General.
The nickname, a history reference to military generals of the 1800s, was given to him by his coach. On the court, Mead is a floor general – directing the offense and dishing to open teammates when he’s called upon to play point guard. With a passion for basketball that includes memories of watching the flashy Los Angeles Lakers teams of the 1980s, he plays with a team-first attitude.
“I like being like the quarterback of the team,” Mead said. “Pass the ball here, pass the ball there and call the shots. I’m a team player. I like to pass the ball around and look for the open man.”
Mead and his teammates were among those vying for medals and ribbons last Saturday at the Southeast Los Angeles basketball competition at Lakewood High School.
An athlete for nearly 20 years, he also enjoys track and field. Overall, the positive atmosphere at Special Olympics competitions promoted by his coaches and fellow competitors resonates with him.
“That’s what makes it fun,” Mead said.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like bringing home a medal, either.
“I like to come home with a lot of bling bling on my chest,” he added. “When you look at the medals you can say, ‘Wow, I did that.’ It gives you a good feeling. You went out there and played your heart out.”
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. SOSC staff member Chris Jones and volunteer Cesar Fernandez contributed to this report. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.
[…] Among the 20 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities, brothers Armando and Danny Saucedo got to share the same field and one received a surprise honor from L.A. Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimović. […]