Thursday, October 29, 2020

US volleyball team forms bond, wins gold at Dwarf Games

August 8, 2013
	<p>Pittsburgh, Penn. resident Blaze Foster applauds his teammates after a point is scored, during a volleyball set of the 2013 World Dwarf Games, Aug. 8, 2013, at Jenison Field House. Foster, along with his teammates, went on to win a gold medal. Danyelle Morrow/The State News</p>

Pittsburgh, Penn. resident Blaze Foster applauds his teammates after a point is scored, during a volleyball set of the 2013 World Dwarf Games, Aug. 8, 2013, at Jenison Field House. Foster, along with his teammates, went on to win a gold medal. Danyelle Morrow/The State News

Photo by Danyelle Morrow | The State News

The 2013 World Dwarf Games continued Thursday as athletes from around the world competed in table tennis, volleyball and soccer. Although many of the athletes participated in events every day, as day six finished, spirits and energy remained high.

“(The games have) been going really well,” World Dwarf Games volunteer JoAnn Cekanor said.

“There’s been some great competition and camaraderie between not only the U.S. teams, but also the international teams. Everyones getting to understand playing for your country and meeting people from everywhere in the world.”

Mike Kragewski, parent of U.S. athlete Miles Kragewski, said they decided to make an effort to come and play at the World Dwarf Games last year when they discovered what the games were. Kragewski said his son is generally athletic and had been doing a lot of running and throwing to train for the games.

“He’s never really played table tennis before, so it’s a good experience and a great environment for him to try a sport like this,” Kragewski said. “(He’s played) just about every (sport), anything he could try. … (It’s) a great environment for him to try all these new sports and he’s on a level playing field with everyone else.”

Table tennis and volleyball began at 8 a.m., with athletes at various locations on MSU’s campus. U.S. volleyball player Shelby Holloway has been playing with her team for years. Even after having their first coach passed away last year, the team has been able to move forward and continue playing.

“We’ve had the team for several years, but we’ve had to change people and new people have been coming in,” Holloway said. “We’ve been doing really good lately, especially with the team that we’ve created just for this event.”

USA team 4, also known as The Towers, took home the volleyball gold medal for the open bracket, which was available to all ages. After winning against the team they’ve considered one of their biggest rivals, The Statesmen, team 4 advanced to win the “open any age” bracket.

Team 4 athletes Stephen Olesik and Zach Shattuck expressed their relief when they won the game against The Statesmen.

“It was one of the more nerve-wracking games we’ve ever played, like in my whole life,” Olesik said. “There’s a very strong fight between the two of us.”

“We’re extremely close-matched teams,” Shattuck continued. “They’re really good, we just got lucky.”

The team started playing together at conventions in 2009, and the team members all met in various ways. Some of the athletes had gone to school together, while others just lived in the area. Most of the players come from New Jersey and New York.

“Everyone was really good, everyone played well and we worked as a team,” Shattuck said. “It wasn’t an individual effort.”

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