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Published On: September 10th, 2015

Mankato, MN – In the 2015 season there was a new program implemented that not only brought local businesses together, but positively impacted many lives. Knutson+Casey Law Firm, LEEP, and the Mankato MoonDogs came together to build a program called, LEEP Athlete of the Game. Each week, the MoonDogs recognized one local Special Olympics athlete who has exemplified sportsmanship, teamwork and a great attitude on the LEEP team. Each participant recieved a customized MoonDogs jersey with their last name on the back, and recognition on the field at the MoonDogs game behind home plate. Knutson+Casey Law Firm was proud to support these athletes and partner with the MoonDogs to give them the recognition they deserve! “Everyone at Knutson+Casey is honored to have been able to partner with LEEP and the Mankato MoonDogs for the player of the game promotion this summer. We love finding new ways to give back to the community and it’s been great seeing this partnership with LEEP grow into what it is today. A big thanks goes out to LEEP and the MoonDogs for making it happen and for being such great partners to work with" quotes Knutson+Casey Law Firm's Brand Manager, Corey Alverson.

Outreach Coordinator for LEEP, Cate DeBates says, “LEEP was thrilled to be approached by Knutson + Casey and the Mankato MoonDogs to not only recognize our athletes, but to show the Mankato community what inclusion truly means. Programs ranging from Special Olympics to non-competitive sporting leagues give athletes with intellectual or developmental disabilities the opportunity to take advantage of a supportive and structured coaching environment. We are so fortunate to have business partners who are willing to tell our story.” 

Each LEEP athlete who was nominated and chosen to be recognized this summer is below:

0527md_0159filesizeMelanie Thompson: 

Melanie has been a LEEP Special Olympic athlete for 3 years.  She has participated in Aquatics, Softball, and Flag Football.   Her coach, Jordan nominated her saying, "Melanie is a very determined athlete.  She worked hard during practice and outside of practice.  She improved her 50 M Freestyle time by 20 seconds and her 100 M Freestyle time by 30 seconds in just 6 short weeks."  Melanie is known for her passion and always going the extra mile.  





JJ Harris: 

On the first night of track, he taught all his teammates how to do the shot put correct.  He has been in track from 24 years.  He always does his best and is very nice and respectful.  He is always willing to help his teammates.  JJ is great example of a LEEP Special Olympic athlete.






Brooke Quiram:

Brooke is a remarkable young lady…she always has a positive attitude, no matter the circumstance. She shows an amazing level of gratitude and encouraging words for her teammates and competitors, while still being able to play the game with a great deal of competitive nature. She has a great deal of willingness to help her team do the best they can while also always making sure that having fun and good sportsmanship comes first.




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Lee Young:

Lee plays unified volleyball, flag football, basketball and bowling for LEEP! Lee is always hyped and happy before all our practices or games. Lee is always shaking hands and giving positive feedback to his teammates, no matter how they are doing in a game or practice, Lee is always there with a hand reached out! We nominated Lee because, seeing him encourage and pick-up his teammates have helped all our teams out immensely! He is an awesome athlete/teammate and showed so much improvement as a player. His positive attitude and his will to never give up is what we like to see in all of our athletes! 





DJ Peterson:

 “DJ plays Center for LEEP's  Unified Full Court Basketball team. DJ is an extremely hard-working and dedicated athlete. He work ethic paid off this season, as he helped his team achieve 1st place at the state tournament.” Cody Kutil (LEEP Coach)







Sammy Seifert:

Sammy has the most contagious smile I have ever seen and an energetic personality to go right along with it. She never fails to not bring a smile to anyone she’s around…. There’s been many times where people have said how they have been having a rough day and Sammy has completely turned their day around without even trying. She is an absolute joy to be around and always brings out the best in everyone.





Jeremy Kloos:

A LEEP coach, Martha, says “During volleyball practice it’s impossible to see Jeremy without a smile.  He brings such a positive attitude to his team.” Jeremy plays unified volleyball, softball, unified basketball, flag football and bowling for LEEP! Jeremy is always super friendly and loves to talk to all of his teammates and coaches. Jeremy is definitely a team player and tries hard to give 100% to any of the teams he's playing for! We nominated Jeremy because he has a great attitude all around for any of the sports he participates in. He is an awesome athlete and his positive attitude rubs off on his teammates and coaches!





Cristy Jensen:

Cristy is involved in Special Olympic Volleyball.  She is always giving 110%.  She is a leader that is always encouraging her teammates.  Cristy is a great athlete that never has a frown and always has a positive attitude! Christy plays traditional volleyball and half-court basketball for LEEP! Chrissy is always in a good mood on the court, no matter what day it is. Chrissy is always seen encouraging her teammates and even cheering loud for other's during games or other  LEEP practices. We nominated Chrissy because seeing her positive attitude during games and practices is something all our athletes and coaches love to see! She is an awesome teammate and continues to be a good player and support through some of our LEEP sports! 





Nathaniel Klecker:

Respectful, compassionate, hard working, friendly, energetic…are a few of the many great characteristics that Nathaniel possesses. Every week he comes to practice with a GREAT team first mentality and such a positive aura that you can’t help but be in a great mood yourself. He never complains or argues with any of his coaches, teammates, or referees. He is always lending a helping hand or encouraging words to his teammates and even his opponents. He is nothing short of a remarkable young man and an absolute privilege to be able to coach.





Brian Baumann:

“Brian is a LEEP Athlete who participates in Half-Court Basketball and Track. He comes to each practice and game in a great mood. HIs joyful demeanor is contagious to all teammates, and coaches.” Cody Kutil (LEEP Coach)







Leah Schroeder:

 “Leah played Point Guard for LEEP's Full Court Team this past winter. She also participates in track. In these sports, she is a leader on and off the court. She has a great competitive attitude that is present in victory and defeat.” Cody Kutil (LEEP Coach)






The Mankato MoonDogs are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website."