The 10 male players, who will take a flight to Seattle on Saturday, will be among more than 4,000 athletes and coaches who come together from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to compete in 14 sports.
Josh Messersmith coaches the squad, known as a unified team because it includes six athletes with intellectual disabilities and four other players. He said seven of the 10 players have never ventured out of the Cleveland area nor flown on a plane.
“It’s a great opportunity for these athletes,” said Messersmith, who is a Special Olympics employee. “We not only give them a chance to play sports, we also give them an opportunity to travel.”
One of the team members, Carnell Nelson, will carry the flag for Ohio’s delegation to the Special Olympics, Messersmith said.
The Special Olympics U.S.A. Games are held every four years. This year’s games will run from July 1-6, with events across the Seattle area.
ESPN will cover the games, beginning with a live 2 ½-hour broadcast of the opening ceremonies on Sunday, July 1.