A University of Louisville-based Unified Sports basketball team has been selected to represent the state as part of Team Kentucky at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in June in Orlando.
The team combines traditional Special Olympics athletes with teammates who do not have an intellectual disability to train and compete together and includes six athletes, four unified partners and two coaches. It is the first unified team that Special Olympics Kentucky has ever sent to a USA Games.
The roster includes:
- Athlete Nick Coslow, 23, of Louisville is a 2016 graduate of Male High School. Coslow has been involved in Special Olympics since 2013, competing in basketball, bowling, flag football, softball and track and field in addition to unified sports. He has worked at Kentucky Kingdom and Griff’s Restaurant in the past and currently works at Cabela’s. Coslow also has volunteered at Norton Children’s Hospital and the Louisville Zoo.
- Unified partner Michelle Goderwis, 19, is from Newport, Kentucky, and is a sophomore at UofL majoring in economics and sustainability. She has been active in Unified Sports at Louisville since arriving on campus, participating in basketball, bocce and human foosball. She plans to attend law school and hopes to practice environmental law.
- Athlete Hunter Kasse, 21, of Louisville has been involved in Special Olympics for eight years, competing in basketball, bowling, golf, softball and track and field. He has worked as a package handler at UPS for the past two years.
- Athlete Tim Kornrumpf, 30, of Louisville is the only member of the team with previous USA Games experience, having competed in track and field at the 2010 Games in Lincoln, Nebraska. There he won a gold medal in the 4×100 relay and a bronze in the 100-meter dash. Kornrumpf followed that in 2014 in New Jersey, competing as part of the Team Kentucky flag football team that claimed a bronze medal. A Special Olympics athlete for 19 years, he has competed in basketball, bowling, cheerleading, flag football, softball, swimming and track and field. Kornrumpf is starting a job soon at UPS.
- Athlete Trent Martinez, 24, of Louisville has been a Special Olympics athlete for nine years competing in basketball, flag football, soccer and softball. Martinez has worked at UPS unloading trucks for four years.
- Athlete Garrett Nason, 19, of Louisville has been a Special Olympics athlete for nine years, competing in basketball, bowling, flag football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and track and field. Nason’s sister, Kalina, also participates in the program. Nason works at UPS unloading package containers.
- Unified partner Eric Piernas Jr., 24, is from Rineyville, Kentucky, and has been instrumental in the growth of the Unified Sports program at UofL. He has participated in unified basketball for several years and has competed at two NIRSA National Unified Basketball Championships. Piernas is working toward his master’s degree in sports administration and has worked in UofL Intramural and Recreational Sports for five years.
- Athlete Cory Pitsenberger, 23, of Louisville is a graduate of Eastern High School where he participated on the unified basketball and track teams. He also was a team manager for the varsity basketball team. He has been involved in Special Olympics for 12 years competing in basketball, flag football, soccer and softball. Pitsenberger was a member of the unified basketball teams that represented UofL in the 2018 and 2019 NIRSA National Basketball Championships. He works at the Nike Outlet Store.
- Unified partner Kevin Sullivan, 21, is a UofL senior and serves on the DeSales High School basketball coaching staff. While at UofL, he has participated in the unified basketball program. Sullivan is a civil and environmental engineering major and has plans to become a water resource engineer.
- Unified partner Olivia Whitehead, 20, is a sophomore at UofL, where she has participated in unified basketball, bocce and human foosball. Whitehead is majoring in bioengineering and plans to become a physician assistant or work developing new prosthetics.
The team will be coached by Katherine Halbleib and Justin Peterson. Halbleib is the assistant director of intramural sports at UofL and the main liaison for Special Olympics. Halbleib graduated from UofL with a bachelor’s in sport administration in 2017 and completed her MBA in 2019.
Peterson is the associate director of facility operations for UofL Intramural and Recreational Sports. He earned a bachelor’s in history and social sciences from Central Michigan University and a master’s in recreation and sport management from Indiana State University.
“We’re excited to once again have the opportunity to send athletes, unified partners and coaches to the USA Games,” said Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni. “Being selected to Team Kentucky for the Games is not only a tremendous honor for our athletes, but it offers a great opportunity for personal growth. We have seen many of our athletes be transformed by this experience at the previous four USA Games that have been held. Plus, with these games being held largely at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, it will be a one-of-a-kind environment and a chance to compete in world-class facilities.”
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, scheduled for June 5-12 in Orlando, Florida, will unite more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean. The unified collegiate team joins six other Louisville-area athletes who will compete at the 2022 USA Games: Dallas Derringer, Justin Hale, Austin Stine, Michaela Hickerson, Caitlin Roy and Trevor Yates.
UofL was the first university in Kentucky to implement the Special Olympics unified college program and basketball was the first opportunity that was offered. Bocce and human foosball have since been added. Team Kentucky will compete against teams from colleges in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas at the USA Games.
The 2022 USA Games are the fifth such games in Special Olympics history. Past USA Games were held in 2006 in Ames, Iowa; 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska; in 2014 in New Jersey; and in 2018 in Seattle.