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Meet Local Special Olympics Athletes This Weekend

Join a free play date and support the Games, plus read about two Team Washington competitors

Published on: June 21, 2018

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Team Washington for Special Olympics USA Games 2018
Photo:
Team Washington for Special Olympics USA Games 2018. Courtesy Special Olympics Washington

This Saturday, families have a chance to meet two Team Washington athletes participating in next week's Special Olympics USA Games 2018: Benjamin Kennish, a flag football player, and John Emmett, a soccer player. (Read more about them below.)

Families are invited to the Play Date With Special Olympics Washington taking place at The Outlet Collection Seattle in Auburn on Saturday, June 23, 1–4 p.m. The play date at Doxon Playland is free and open to the public. Families with kids of all ages and with and without special needs are invited to attend.

This event is designed to get local families excited for next week's Games in Seattle and to raise awareness of Special Olympics of Washington's Young Athletes program.

Play date events include the following:

  • Young Athletes Clinic at 1 p.m.: Kids ages 2–7 should check in at 12:30 p.m. to participate in a sports skills clinic to practice throwing, kicking and running. This clinic is open to kids with and without intellectual disabilities.
  • Poster-making station, 1–4 p.m.: Use your creativity to make a poster supporting Team Washington.
  • Parade of Athletes at 2:30 p.m.: Arrive by 2 p.m. to check in to participate in a rallying parade around the mall. All Special Olympics of Washington athletes are invited to participate along with any local kids who play soccer or football.
  • Autograph-signing at 3:15 p.m.: Get your poster signed by Team Washington athletes Benjamin Kennish and John Emmett. (Plus, read more about them below!)

Meet athlete Benjamin Kennish

Benjamin Kennish plays with the Federal Way Thunder flag football team and in next week's Games, he'll play unified flag football (that's on a team with players both with and without intellectual disabilities). He loves Special Olympics because he can completely be himself.

At what age did you start playing your sport?

I started playing flag football at 35.

What’s your position on the field and what’s your best skill?

I play center and become one of the receivers after hiking the ball.

What’s your favorite part of a game or match?

The competition and showing others what we can do on the field.

What piece of advice would you give a young athlete?

No matter what, doesn’t matter if you're winning or losing, all that matters is to that you put your best effort in the sport that you’re playing and have fun!

What’s something that your coach says that helps you or inspires you?

He always tells us to play hungry, to be aggressive and to always be competitive.

Meet athlete John Emmett

John Emmett is from Auburn and has been competing with the Special Olympics since 2006. He played in the 2010 USA Games and competed internationally in 2012 at the UNIFIED Soccer Championship in Costa Rica.

At what age did you start playing your sport?

I started playing soccer at 13 years old with the Federal Way Schools soccer program.

What’s your position on the field and what’s your best skill?

I play all positions on the field with the exception of goalie. My best skill would probably be at forward; I am the top goal scorer for my team.

What’s your favorite part of a game or match?

My favorite part of the game would have to be the final moments of the game. This is when the game becomes the most intense.

What piece of advice would you give a young athlete?

Never give up!

What’s something that your coach says that helps you or inspires you?

Win or lose, you still win.

Who do you think will be your toughest opponent in these games?

In 2010, I went to national games and played Nebraska. We lost twice but games were close. I also have my eyes out for Hawaii, which I hear is a pretty good team.

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