The game between the Special Olympics and the Hudson Hawks will take place on Tuesday, September 4th
Special Olympics team takes on the Hudson Hawks in annual football match
Hudson Hub Times - August 7, 2016
by Laura Freeman | reporter & photographer
Hudson -- For those who would like to enjoy watching a championship game, join fans for the 11th Annual Hudson Challenger Football Game Aug. 13.
The Hudson Hawks Association and the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics are presenting the 11th matchup between players from the Hudson Chapter Special Olympics organization and Hudson Hawks team.
The free game starts at 4 p.m. at The Scott Malson Memorial Field near the Hudson Middle School, but gates open at 3 p.m. when the community can meet with the players, community leaders and special guests.
"It is a very unique event that is 11 years running that allows local Hudson Chapter Special Olympics athletes to participate on a football game and showcase their love of the game and their special athletic talents," said Matthew Petruzzi, a Hawks board member.
The Special Olympics players are coached by Hudson High School varsity football players and Coach Jeff Gough as they share their love of the game in what has always been a high-scoring match, at least for the Special Olympic players.
"A lot of those [senior football] players played against these same athletes when they were in the Hawks program, and unfortunately they got their butts kicked, too," Petruzzi said.
The Hudson High School cheerleaders, the Hudson High School football players and the Hudson High School marching band will motivate the crowd to cheer on the players.
"This promises to be a memorable day for all those in the community as well as the Special Olympics participants," Petruzzi said.
Donations will be accepted at the gate and all proceeds go directly to the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics. Also, tickets for a 50/50 raffle will be sold. Local businesses can help sponsor the event, Petruzzi added. A check will be presented, and Special Olympics players receive trophies and shirts.
As of July 12 the roster of Special Olympics football players included Nina Ackerman, Genevieve Burke, Ben Cartwright, Nelia Cullen, Jamie Embree, Nicholas Gosiewski, Michael Gosiewski, David Gurreri, Michael Havel, Connor Hayslip, Chris Horton, Savannah James, Cole Jeffries, Raina Kubinski, Rhylie Ludwig, Keagan Patterson, Adam Shaw, David Spurlock, Brennan Strobach, Allison Sweress and Nicholas Tomins; and cheerleaders included Barbara Bell, Sarah Faiman, Roxanne Fatemi, Madison Jacob, Noreen Kern and Sarah Platt.
"It's a great experience not just for the Special Olympians but for everyone who participates," Petruzzi said. "Everyone involved has a smile."
The game lasts approximately one hour and refreshments can be purchased at the Hawk's Nest concession stand.
"Last year's event was a great success," Petruzzi said. "The community came out in full force, and we all witnessed some great football by some very special athletes."
Support the Special Olympics at the 10th annual Challenger Football Game
Game between Special Olympics team and Hudson Hawks at Scott Malson Field Aug. 8
Hudson Hub Times - August 5, 2015
by Laura Freeman | reporter & photographer
Hudson -- The Hudson Hawks Association and the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics will present the 10th annual Challenger Football Game Aug. 8. The Special Olympic team will face off against the seventh-grade Hawks team at the Scott Malson Football Field behind Hudson Middle School.
"For the Hawks organization to host the Challenger game is an honor," said Matthew Petruzzi of the Hawks organization. "Every year the team grows, and the fun and excitement, and sometimes even the score, top the year before."
The Special Olympic team will defend its undefeated record, with players of all ages coached by the Hudson High School varsity football team. At least 22 Special Olympic athletes are returning this year, according to the roster. The gates will open at 3 p.m. with the game beginning at 4 p.m. and lasting approximately an hour. The game highlights the athletes from the Hudson Chapter Special Olympics organization. Each player receives a jersey, trophy and a chance to play football, a game not included in Special Olympics, but loved by the team members. Special guests attending the event include city officials from the city of Hudson, the Hudson High School, Hawks and Special Olympic cheerleaders, the Hudson High School football players, the Hudson High School marching band, as well as others.
"It's a great opportunity for the community to come together and support their local athletes," Petruzzi said. "The impact it has on the young players is huge."
The Hawks and High School players interact with the Special Olympic players of different levels of athleticism and build teamwork, he said. They meet "people who overcome things every day that we sometimes take for granted."
Donations will be accepted at the gate on behalf of the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics, and all proceeds go directly to the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics. Tickets will be sold for a 50/50 raffle. Also, food and refreshments will be sold during the game.
Practice and competition leads to improvement in sports and growth in confidence for the players, said Local Coordinator for Hudson Special Olympic Peter Chatigny. He replaces Jo Ann Fink, who served for seven years in the position.
"I know the athletes leave the field feeling better about themselves and that they are a part of the Hudson community," Chatigny said. "This confidence carries over to their Special Olympic practices and tournaments."
Residents should watch the game because the majority of athletes in the Challenger Game are from Hudson and attend Hudson schools, Chatigny said.
"Almost 100 percent of our fund raising and donations come from Hudson families, businesses and organizations," Chatigny said. "The mantra of the Hudson High School football team in 2014 was 'one ZIP code, 44236.' That is who Hudson Special Olympics is."
Also, following the event, the fun will continue at Sidelines Bar and Grill at 5893 Akron Cleveland Road in Hudson. The owners are Hudson Hawks coaches.
Hudson Challenger game produces tears and cheers
Special Olympics team wins 86-0 over 7th grade Hawks team
Hudson Hub Times - August 13, 2014
by Laura Freeman | reporter
Hudson -- The 9th Annual Hudson Challenger football game ended with the Special Olympics team scoring 86 points, and the seventh-grade Hudson Hawks football team leaving a zero on the scoreboard.
Before the game began Aug. 9, Chris Rightnour and Rich Piekarski presented Barbara Malson, along with Rick and Ellen Malson, a plaque in memory of Richard "Dick" Malson, who died July 10.
The plaque, which sports Mr. Malson's signature hat and the letters "RAM" for the business he owned, Ramco Specialties Inc. will be placed on the Hawks Nest concession stand at Scott Malson Field at Hudson Middle School where the Hawks play, according to Rightnour, president of Hudson Hawks Youth Football Association. The Scott Malson field was built in 2011 through the generous donations of Mr. Malson and his family in memory of his son Scott, who coached the Hawks football players.
The Hudson Hawks and Hudson community appreciate what Mr. Malson and his son Scott gave the Hawks program and the youth of Hudson, Rightnour said.
"Saturday was a very hard day not seeing Dick Malson in the stands," Rightnour said. "The Challenger game was the first game played on Malson Field, and Dick was there every year."
The Hudson Hawks Youth Football Association raised and donated $5,000 for the Hudson Special Olympics team to help with expenses when players attend sporting events throughout the year.
Hudson Middle School seventh-grader Lila Bishop sang the national anthem before the more than 700 in attendance, one of the biggest crowds for the annual event, according to event coordinator Mark Guadagni.
The game saw two rookies on the Special Olympics team, Genevieve Burke and Danny "Dax" O'Brien, who may have been the youngest players on the field, but whose smiles conveyed why the Challenger game has become so popular.
"This is one of the best events by far with some of the Special Olympics stars performing at a high level as well as some newer faces like Dax and Genevieve," Guadagni said.
The stands were packed and spectators lined the field to watch as 22 Special Olympics athletes teamed with 39 Hudson High School senior football players in a game against the seventh-grade Hudson Hawks.
Special Olympics cheerleaders Noreen Kern, Barbara Bell and Roxanne Fatemi joined cheerleaders from Hudson High School and the Hudson Hawks Association to celebrate the game plays while Hudson High School band members played a victory song for every touchdown and extra point scored. The band also performed at half time in a preview of this fall's football game highlights.
Special guest Kent State University mascot "Flash" posed for photographs with players and guests.
The Special Olympics players wore numbered jerseys and huge smiles as they enjoyed the game, Guadagni said.
"Generally, everyone feels this is one of the best events they attend all year," Guadagni said. "The opportunity to see these Special Olympics athletes enjoying the game of football puts a smile on everyone's face."
The two leaders of the Special Olympics team were David Spurlock and Mikey Havel, who selflessly cleared Hudson Hawk players out of the path so their teammates could run up the field unimpeded to score.
Speed was an asset for Special Olympians Nicholas Tomins, Joseph Korane, Nicholas Gosiewski, Michael Gosiewski, David Gurreri, Connor Hayslip, John Krzysik and Allison Sweress, who carried the football down the field in 80 degree heat.
Special Olympics football player Nina Ackerman ran so fast, she lost her hair ribbon from her ponytail.
Other players who helped lead the team to victory included Ben Cartwright, Adam Shaw, Mike Powell, Rhylie Ludwig, Chris Horton and Brennan Strobach.
The Challenger game is the Super Bowl when the Hawks compete with the Special Olympics athletes, Rightnour said.
"The Hawks look forward to this game every year," Rightnour said. "To be part of the smiles on so many faces gives such a great feeling to all of us. Giving back is something the Hawks organization takes pride in teaching to our players and cheerleaders."
Next year will be the 10th Annual Challenger Game, and volunteers are already working on how to make the event bigger and better.
Special Olympics, Hudson Hawks team up for perfect start to football season
Hudson Hub Times - August 15, 2012
by Laura Freeman | reporter
Hudson -- The atmosphere was perfect for a football game Aug. 11: the air was crisp, the band was sharp and cheers punctuated the stadium at Malson Field as the seventh annual Challenger Football Game led to another win, 96-6, for the Hudson Special Olympics team.
The Challenger Game, sponsored by the Hudson Hawks youth football organization, gives Special Olympic players a chance to play football in a safe, coached environment.
The seventh-grade Hawk team is the opposing team and always seems to play its worst that day. High School senior football players help the Special Olympic players set up and execute plays and cheer them on to victory.
The day of the game, the Hudson Hawk organization raises funds, which it donates to the Hudson Special Olympics. This year, the Hudson Hawks presented a check at halftime for $3,000 to the Hudson Special Olympics.
This year the Special Olympians scored early and then took advantage of the seventh-grade Hudson Hawk team`s mistakes to continuously run the ball down the field.
Veteran players Michael Havel and David Spurlock both had length-of-the-field runs to score touchdowns for the team. John Krzysik, Joe Korane, Mark Maguire and Zach Zaleski were on the line, ready to capitalize on any mistakes by the Hawks.
Other Special Olympic players included David Gurreri, Adam Shaw, Nicholas Gosiewski, Tim Clary, Allison Sweress, Ben Cartwright, Nicky Tomins, Nathan Brown, Chris Horton, Michael Gosiewski and Brennan Strobach. The team was missing veteran Nina Ackerman.
The fourth quarter of the game, was a nail biter for the Hudson Hawks team as it reached the 1-yard line, threatening to score what would be a rare achievement in the game`s history. The Hawks snuck past the Special Olympic team and scored its only touchdown of the game, and only the second one in the history of the game.
Special Olympic athletes paired up with Hudson High School football players, and coach Joe Ciriano called the plays that led the team to victory.
Every Special Olympic player received a personalized trophy and commemorative shirt at the end of the game.
Special Olympic Cheerleaders included Barbara Bell, Roxanne Fatemi, Allie Juda, Noreen Kern, Miranda Smith and Anya Stopar.
Other cheerleaders included the Kent State University cheerleaders, Hudson High School varsity cheerleaders and the Hawks cheerleaders, along with the KSU mascot Flash.
The Hudson High School Pep Band played throughout the game and was led off the field by Special Olympic player Joe Korane, playing air trombone. He plays a real trombone in the seventh-grade band.
The game officials were Rich Piekarski and John Elffers. Mike DeLeo and Jim Lease coached the Hawks team.
Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3150
Hudson Hub Times - August 17, 2011
by Laura Freeman, reporter
Hudson -- The new scoreboard at Scott Malson Field almost wasn`t large enough to display the highest score ever in the six-year history of the Special Olympics Challenger football game against the Hudson Hawks seventh-grade team.
The Hudson Special Olympics team once again beat the Hawks, this time by scoring 99 points in the inaugural game at Scott Malson Field at Hudson Middle School on Aug. 13.
The Hudson Hawks youth football organization presented $3,000 to the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics at halftime. In addition, the winner of the 50/50 raffle, the Burdett family, donated its $300 winnings.
The Hudson Hawks, Garden of Western Reserve Assisted Living and the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics sponsored the game.
Mark Guadagni of the Hudson Hawks said the crowd of nearly 600 people was one of the largest in the event`s six-year history.
"Overall it was special day, possibly because the [field] dedication set the tone," Guadagni said. "The new field was open to the public for the first time. All of it added to the excitement of the day."
The Special Olympians just loved playing the game and had a great time, he said.
Hudson Special Olympics coordinator Jo Ann Fink said the money raised by the Hudson Hawks group is a quarter of the chapter`s budget.
"We are so grateful," Fink said. "Everyone in our organization is a volunteer, and we run on donations by the community."
The Special Olympic players would never get an opportunity to play football without the Challenger game, Fink said.
"Those Hawk guys have just as much fun as we do, and those boys are so nice to our kids," Fink said.
The six-year history of the rivalry meant that some of the senior Hudson High School football players mentoring the Special Olympians were the same Hudson Hawk players who played against many of the same Special Olympic players in the first Challenger game.
This time, those seniors finally got to know what it felt to be on the winning side, even though the game is a win-win situation for everybody involved.
The Special Olympics team scored 99 points while shutting out the Hawks.
Although the Hudson Hawks thought they had scored a pair of touchdowns, they were negated by penalties. Coach Mike DeLeo of the Hudson Hawk seventh-grade team could not be placated about the referees` calls, and players ended up dousing him with ice water to cool him down.
The Special Olympic football players were coached by Joe Ciriono and included Nina Ackerman, Ben Cartwright, Chris Horton, Joseph Korane, John Krzysik, Mark Maguire, Michael Prevosnik, Adam Shaw, David Spurlock, Brennan Strobach, Allison Sweress, Nicky Tomins, Zachary Zaleski and Lucas Gasper.
Nina Ackerman, 13, has played for six years, and her experience showed as she carried the ball over and over again to score several touchdowns.
Zachary Zaleski or "ZZ" was a speeding bullet on the field as he tucked the football under his arm and zipped up the field with Hawk players in pursuit. His knuckles were sore from all the fist bumps from players congratulating him after each scoring play.
Mark Maguire acquired the nickname of "shoeless Maguire" after burning up the field and losing his shoe. It didn`t slow him down, although there may have been a hole in his sock when he reached the end zone.
As always, veteran player David Spurlock was a huge threat as he caught a long pass for the score. The Hawks parted like the Red Sea when he headed in their direction.
Joseph Korane, normally a high scorer, was distracted by the band -- he plays trombone -- and took time out from scoring touchdowns to direct the marching band through a few notes of music.
The Hudson High School marching band, led by Beverly Rickard, helped celebrate each touchdown and performed at halftime.
Cheerleaders from Kent State University, Hudson High School, Hudson Hawks and six cheerleaders from the Special Olympics -- Barbara Bell, Elizabeth Innamorato, Alli Juda, Heather Maurer and Miranda Smith -- led the crowd in cheers.
Hudson Hub Times - August 8, 2010
by Laura Freeman, reporter
Are you ready for some football?
The Hudson Hawks Association and the Hudson Chapter of the Special Olympics are sponsoring the fifth annual Hudson Challenger football game 6 p.m. Aug. 14 at Franklin Field at Hudson Middle School.
The Challenger football game gives Special Olympic athletes a chance to play non-contact football.
"The Special Olympic athletes can never play football [competitively], but when you see them on the field, they know football and love football and this gives them the best chance to recreate the game and play in it," said coordinator Mark Guadagni.
Although the outcome of the games has been fairly predictable, with the Special Olympic team, coached by Joe Ciriono and John Havel, running over the Hudson Hawk team, it`s all about fun, and plenty of it.
It is the only game of football the Special Olympic team plays in a year, and it shows in the enthusiasm and excitement when they take the field. Each member of the Special Olympic team is coached by a member of the Hudson High School varsity football team.
Not only do the varsity players help with positioning and plays, they have been known to lift a player high into the air after scoring a touchdown. It`s about celebrating life, not just football.
The Hudson Hawk seventh-grade team, coached by Mike DeLeo, is on its own, but has devised some pretty elaborate plays in the past. And no matter how skilled the team, they just can`t seem to get their "act" together against the Special Olympic players.
Cheerleaders from Hudson High School, Hudson Hawks and the Special Olympics will cheer both teams and the Hudson High School pep band lead by Mark Zartman will entertain spectators with some lively music guaranteed to get everyone in the mood. Food and refreshments will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m.
It`s important for the community to be aware of the talents of these Special Olympic athletes, Guadagni said.
"These kids are great athletes, and it shows in their love and passion for football," Guadagni said.
Each season the game is a little bit different, but the joy on all the players` faces remains the same. The game is free and is an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday night.
Each Special Olympic player receives a jersey and will be presented with a trophy after the game, along with the Special Olympics cheerleaders, Guadagni said.
The Hudson Hawks will present the Special Olympics organization with a check at halftime, he said. Last year, the youth football organization presented a $2,500 check raised through sponsor pledges and donations.
Guadagni said this year the Gardens of Western Reserve is the title sponsor, and the goal is to raise $2,500 again.
For more information, call Guadagni at 330-653-9515.
Hudson Hub Times - August 19, 2009
THUMBS UP ... to the Hudson Hawks organization, the Hudson High School varsity football team and all those who helped organize the fourth annual Challenger football game with the Hudson Special Olympics. It is clear that the Special Olympic athletes cherish their moments on the field with the Hudson players, who behave like the role models all athletes should strive to be. And the $2,500 donation from the Hawks will help Hudson Special Olympics continue to provide similar experiences to its athletes.