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Women’s Soccer, NAU Alums Run Event with Special Olympics

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – On Friday, April 9, members of the Northern Arizona women's soccer team volunteered their time in helping organize and run a track and field meet for Northern Arizona Special Olympics held at Flagstaff High. The event was organized by former NAU women's basketball player Anna (Sturing) Turco, the Regional Coordinator of Northern Arizona Special Olympics, and former NAU soccer player and current assistant coach Holly Jones. The four-hour event contained multiple field events and races of varying distance competed in by local Special Olympians ranging from elementary school to high school.

"Anna came to me with the idea of getting our team out here today and the girls were happy to do it," said Jones, who also teaches physical education for kids with special needs at Flagstaff Middle School. "I think it's great for the players to come out and get to work with the different kids. They got to see how excited the athletes are to be out here and compete, so it was a great opportunity for us to give back to the community."

Two NAU players were at each event throughout the meet, helping demonstrate the activities, run the events and hand out medals at multiple medal ceremonies throughout the day.

"It was really rewarding to come out here today. We don't get to do things like this very often and I really liked seeing the smiles on the kid's faces," said NAU junior midfielder Corie McGuire. "They love every second and they really soak-up everything in life; I wish more people could be like that. I think all of the athletes and everyone helping out today had a really good time. This was a great experience and I hope NAU Athletics can continue to stay involved with the community."

Turco played basketball at Northern Arizona from 1998-2002 and was one of many student-athletes to volunteer with the Special Olympics. Jones also spent time volunteering while she was playing soccer at NAU, and the two have continued working with special needs athletes since their days as Lumberjack athletes. They have passed that legacy on to the current student athletes who continue to give back to the community through their involvement in local Special Olympics events.

For more photos from the event, check out the NAU Athletics Fan Page on Facebook.

DID YOU KNOW…Junior All-American David McNeill finished second and fellow junior Jordan Chipangama placed fifth to lead the Northern Arizona men’s cross country team to its second fourth-place finish in three years and third consecutive Top 10 finish at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

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