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The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y., Whitney Bashaw column

The Daily Star - 6/30/2018

June 30--In the hot afternoon sun Friday, athletes gathered in the parking lot near Springbrook's main campus gymnasium as Springbrook's Scorpions Soccer Team was on its way to Seattle to represent New York in the Special Olympics USA Games.

From July 1-6, more than 4,000 athletes and coaches will compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports in various locations in Seattle.

Before boarding their planes for the West Coast, the Scorpions were going to attend a send-off party in Albany with the other sports teams representing New York.

"I'm super excited," Maianna Huntington said. "But I'm also a little nervous. This will be longest I've been away from home."

Luckily, she said, her brother, Josh, is on the team, too.

"I'm looking forward to working together with my teammates and maybe bringing home the gold," said Josh, a goalkeeper, tugging on his team T-shirt and smiling. "It's going to be a new experience for all of us."

The Scorpions practice twice weekly, coach Jackie Fernaays told the Daily Star. In the last couple of weeks, she said, they have kicked it up to three times a week to prepare.

"It's been rugged," player Ed Palumbo said. "But it's for our own good."

Palumbo said he couldn't wait to score some goals and represent New York.

"These guys have improved every day. I'm not sure what to expect but I'm sure it will be a lot of fun," coach Michael Suwak said.

The opening ceremonies for the games begin Sunday and will be televised live on ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m. Throughout the week ESPN2 will provide coverage of the games and athletes' stories at 6 p.m.

The team is made up of 10 athletes: Ryan Carlisle, Celena Eardley, Josh Huntington, Maianna Huntington, JR Lachmansingh, Christion Mann, Edward Palumbo, Jose Picart, Juan Carlos Sanchez and Michele Scanlon. They will be joined by their two coaches Fernaays and Suwak and athletic coordinators Jonathon Philby and Nicole Valentine-Sokolowski.

After everyone had assembled and said their goodbyes to family, the players loaded their suitcases into two vans decorated with markers declaring "Scorpions Rule!" and "#1 Team!" then climbed inside, with a long journey ahead.

Whitney Bashaw, staff writer, can be reached at (607) 441-7218 or wbashaw@thedailystar.com . Follow her on Twitter @DS_WhitneyB .

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(c)2018 The Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.)

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