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  • The 48th annual summer games held by Special Olympics Maryland brought together athletes from all over the state to compete in five Olympic-style events.
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    The 48th annual summer games held by Special Olympics Maryland brought together athletes from all over the state to compete in five Olympic-style events.
  • The opening ceremony for Special Olympics always includes lighting the Flame of Hope, which symbolizes shining a light on the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
    Photo Provided
    The opening ceremony for Special Olympics always includes lighting the Flame of Hope, which symbolizes shining a light on the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

Local Athletes Compete In Maryland Special Olympics Summer Games

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
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June 27, 2018

Seventeen-year-old Severna Park resident William Koger has been a Special Olympics athlete for four years in multiple sports, including cycling and track.

“The best part of Special Olympics, for me, is winning,” said William, “but I think making new friends is even more fun.”

William was one of the nearly 1,500 Maryland athletes who besieged Towson University on June 8 through 10 to compete in the 48th annual Summers Games hosted by Special Olympics Maryland.

Athletes competed in five Olympic-style events, including athletics (traditional and unified track, mini-jav, high jump, long jump, pentathlon, softball throw, shot put, standing long jump, tennis ball throw); bocce (singles, doubles, unified doubles); cheerleading (traditional and unified team competition); softball (traditional team competition, unified team competition, individual skills competition); and swimming (traditional individual events and team relays, unified team relays).

William knows that to improve in sports, he has to practice and have a good coach. Luckily for him, his father, Brian Kroger, is his coach.

“To get better, I need the right coach at the right time,” added William. “I like having my dad as my coach. It goes really quite well.”

William’s mother, Anne-Marie Koger, is also invested in her son’s Special Olympics experience.

“I love the adult and peer volunteers who come back season after season to build a team that accepts our kids but still encourages them to do the best they can,” she said. “For me, it’s great to see our team parents each season. No matter how different our kids are in age, everyone encourages each other. It’s like a family reunion with the start of each sport season.”

William earned a silver medal in the 200-meter track event. When he’s not competing, William is a member of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra. He plays numerous instruments, including the piano, guitar, cello, trumpet, trombone and accordion, just to name a few.

Bob Stroud, also a Severna Park resident, coaches the softball team, on which his son, 28-year-old Matthew, is on the roster. The team practices weekly at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena. Bob has coached his son through Special Olympics for 10 years, and Matthew has been a Special Olympian for 13 years.

“Special Olympics is a good peer group for Matthew. The athletes have been his friends for a long time,” said Bob. “And Special Olympics is good for families. We like getting together to see how everyone is doing.”

Matthew’s softball team was selected to represent Maryland in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games to be held in Seattle, Washington, from July 1-6. It is estimated that more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 state programs and the District of Columbia will compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports.

When Matthew isn’t playing softball, he’s working at Wegman’s, where he has loved his job for the past six years.


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