Nittany Lion Student-Athletes Help Kick Off 41st Annual Special Olympics Summer Games

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., June 10, 2010 - More than 50 Penn State student-athletes, including nearly 30 members of the Nittany Lion football team, helped Special Olympics Pennsylvania kick off the 41st Annual Summer Games tonight on the University Park Campus.

Sponsored by Sheetz, Inc., the Summer Games bring together more than 2,000 athletes, 750 coaches and 2,500 volunteers from across the state. The event is being held Thursday-Saturday on the Penn State campus for the 23rd consecutive year

The athletes gathered outside East Halls this evening and marched county-by-county to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the opening ceremonies, with the Penn State student-athletes carrying each of the county banners.

The Nittany Lion student-athletes represent nine varsity teams and are among the 2,500 volunteers at the Summer Games, which will include events such as aquatics, athletics, basketball, bowling, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, softball and tennis.

One of the Nittany Lion football student-athletes who participated in the opening ceremonies was linebacker Michael Yancich.

"This event goes a lot further than just Penn State," Yancich said. "It makes me feel like I'm giving back to the community. My mom is a Life Skills teacher (in the Trinity Area School District in western Pa.). There's nothing more rewarding than seeing the athletes' faces tonight or after they've competed in an event."

Among the other members of the Nittany Lion football team who participated tonight were: Brandon Beachum, Brett Brackett, Justin Brown, Derek Day, Lou Eliades, Mike Furhman, Bani Gbadyu, Christian Kuntz, Matt McGloin, Stephon Morris, Derek Moye, Kevin Newsome, Russell Nye, Eric Shrive, Nate Stupar, Andrew Szczerba, James Terry, Mark Wedderburn and Malcolm Willis

Penn State women's volleyball coach Russ Rose is the Honorary Chair for the Games. Rose is entering his 32nd year at the helm of the women's volleyball program. He has guided the Nittany Lions to four NCAA National titles, including an unprecedented three consecutive, as well as 13 Big Ten titles. Rose holds a career record of 1,001-159 and is one of just three Division I women's volleyball coaches to have accumulated 1,000 career wins.

Preliminary games competition began today. Competition continues on Friday at nine venues in individual skills, individual events, relay and team events and concludes on Saturday, June 12. Closing Ceremonies will take place Saturday afternoon on the University's East Halls Lawn. Steve Jones, Sports Director for 3WZ 95.3 Fm and the Voice of Penn State Football, will emcee the event at 4 p.m.

There is no admission fee for any of the events.

For more information on the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games or to volunteer at the Games, visit www.specialolympicspa.org or call 814-234-8750.

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