Articles from December 2021

Meet the Team Representing Iowa at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games

Special Olympics Iowa is pleased to announce the team that will be representing Iowa at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games next year in Orlando! In a little less than one year – June 5-12, 2022 – more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean will travel to Orlando to compete before more than 125,000 fans, spectators, and volunteers.

Among those over 5,500 athletes and coaches will be Team Special Olympics Iowa:

Athletics Bowling
Head Coach: Rob Wagner Head Coach: Julie Pence
Assistant Coach: Brenda Haefner Assistant Coach: Angela Wright
Assistant Coach: Kirk Haefner Nicole Skelley
Tomi DeGrado Shelly Snyder
Abbi Stastny Tyler Leech
Nathan Paulsen Patrick Gulbranson
Alexandra Fountain Jody Sheriff
Abigail Cvrk Kristy Sheriff
Charity Hodson Tasha Conklin
Brandon Baier Kevin Conklin
Collins Clingman
John Flannery Cheerleading
Patrick Smith Head Coach: Kelly Cocks
Jonathan Blankenship Assistant Coach: Teri Christensen
Assistant Coach: Helen Dao
Bocce Leon Nguyen
Head Coach: Molly Vander Linden Dustin Burke
Assistant Coach: Laurie Fallon Emily Mulder
Kim Lively Daniel Custis
Matthew Johnson Ian Kastner
Sue Davis Teddy Velman
Cari Davis
Gracy Elsenbast Equestrian
Emma Harle Head Coach: Kim Stine
Emma Marlow Abbie Kliegl
Erin Peterson
Flag Football  Head Coach: Troy Betsworth
Head Coach: Tim Atkin Assistant Coach: Rob Baldus
Assistant Coach: Bruce Barnett Amanda Bride
Assistant Coach: Corey Leonhard Jessica Copple
Eric St. Clair Mitchell Betsworth
Chris Ashbaugh Isaac Baldus
Matthew Trujillo Joshua Davis
Jay Small Kevin Ahrendsen
Kevin Brockert
Angela Collins Swimming
Adie Strong Head Coach: Mark Robinson
Danielle Mally Assistant Coach: Michelle Bussanmas
Brad Small Christina Rasmussen
Travis Moss Kaitlin Colwell
Desiree Peterson
Golf Emily White
Head Coach: Keith Pease Patrick Cunningham
Jesse Pease Keen Harvey
Jason Pease Adam Rininger
Brian Rolek Preston Stevens
Jill Southworth
Intercollegiate Unified Basketball Head Coach: Sydney Dommer
Head Coach: Tommy Schorer Angela Dohrn
Assistant Coach: Adam Walsh Alexandria Brooks
Austin Climer Billy Habermann
William Woodruff Nathan Williams
Dylan Soppe
Elliot Lee Youth Leadership Experience
Hayli Schumacher Mentor: Lisa Klien
Cali Schmitz Jacob Whack
Jaison Marks
Jenah McCarty Head of Delegation: Seann DeMaris
Maddie Schulte Assistant Head of Delegation: Rhonda Schwarzkopf
Wes Jackson Additional Staff: Kevin Kemp

The USA Games will kick off on June 5, 2022, with the Opening Ceremony in Exploria Stadium.  The games will showcase 19 Olympic-style team and individual sports, including athletics (track & field), basketball, bocce, bowling, cheerleading, equestrian, flag football, golf, gymnastics, open water swimming, powerlifting, soccer, softball, stand up paddleboard, surfing, swimming, tennis, triathlon, and volleyball.

The USA Games will be hosted at various venues across Orlando, with the main location being ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. Other sporting facilities across Orlando include Boardwalk Bowl Entertainment Center, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Lake Minneola Waterfront Park, Lucky’s Lake, Orange County National Gold Center, Osceola Heritage Park, Rosen Aquatic Center, and USTA National Campus.

To learn more about the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games visit Follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Rhonda Schwarzkopf is Retiring After 22 Years

Special Olympics Iowa Director of Sports and Advanced Competitions Rhonda Schwarzkopf is retiring on March 5 after 22 years with Special Olympics Iowa.

Rhonda first joined Special Olympics Iowa in 1998 as an Office Manager. She went on to be Director of Field Services, Director of Training and Outreach, and the Director of Sports and Advanced Competitions. Though Rhonda’s responsibilities changed over the years, one thing never did, her desire to always provide more opportunities to the athletes. She was instrumental in implementing the current tennis competition layout at the Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games and expanded the Opening Ceremonies at state-level competitions allowing more athletes to be included.

“I speak for everyone when I say we have been very fortunate to have Rhonda on staff for the last 22 years. Rhonda’s wealth of knowledge and dedication to the athletes and Unified partners will be missed,” said John Kliegl, Special Olympics Iowa President and CEO.

As Rhonda prepares to move into the next chapter of her life, she is reminded of all of the great experiences she has had over the years. Being Head of Delegation for Team Iowa at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Special Olympics USA Games and honoring key volunteers while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics rank among her favorite experiences.

“I have been so blessed to be surrounded by people who graciously donate their time and talents,” shared Rhonda. “Thank you to the athletes, Unified partners, coaches and volunteers who have helped make the last 22 years so enjoyable. It has been very rewarding watching the athletes learn sport-skills and then apply those skills to the year-round events they compete in.”

This isn’t goodbye, just see you later, as Rhonda plans to attend future Special Olympics Iowa events as a volunteer or spectator and cheer on the athletes and Unified partners. She is especially excited for when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted because it will be a time to celebrate.

“We look forward to seeing Rhonda and Dan’s smiling faces as volunteers for years to come,” said John.

The Special Olympics Iowa family thanks Rhonda for her years of service and commitment to the mission.

Congratulate Rhonda via e-mail at

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