Valley team to compete in 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games

Apr 24, 2021, 12:00 PM
(Special Olympics Arizona Photo)...
(Special Olympics Arizona Photo)
(Special Olympics Arizona Photo)

PHOENIX — The Special Olympics Arizona Unified Floorball team will be heading to Kazan, Russia, next January to compete in the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

The indoor hockey team, led by volunteer coach and Shadow Ridge High School teacher Julie Rodriguez, is comprised of athletes from SOAZ and current/former students from the Dysart Unified School District who went through competitive tryouts to make the squad.

“It was a tough decision, because we had so many great athletes competing to make the team,” Rodriguez said in a press release. “But ultimately we had to make some tough decisions to cut the roster to 10.

“We want to have a competitive team to represent the U.S. and show the world what the athletes at the Dysart Unified School District can really accomplish with an inclusive campus, where we live, learn and play unified.”

The team has set a goal to raise $90,000 to help cover travel and participation costs.

The Special Olympics aims to create acceptance and inclusion through sport, volunteerism, education and health.

More than 2,000 athletes and partners from 108 nations, as well as 3,000 volunteers from all over the world, will gather in Russia from January 22-28 for the Winter Games.

“We are so proud of this team and excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to travel to Russia and compete in the World Winter Games,” Jamie Heckerman, president and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona, said in the release.

“We know they will proudly represent the state of Arizona, as well as being outstanding representatives for inclusion.”

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Valley team to compete in 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games