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Special Olympics features Upstate floor hockey player

NYSOAn employee from payroll services at Upstate competes in floor hockey Saturday during the Special Olympics at the OnCenter, 800 South State St., Syracuse. Stacey Karasinski, 24, of Syracuse is the only female on the team.

The State Winter Games take place this weekend, Feb. 21-23, with nearly 1,000 athletes and coaches traveling to Syracuse today for opening ceremonies.

Karasinski, who earned gold and silver medals in previous games, has experience in swimming, volleyball and softball. She told Syracuse.com that she likes being the only girl on the A team for floor hockey. "I keep the boys in line."

Her father, Edward is the volunteer floor hockey coach. Her mother coaches her volleyball and softball teams.

stacey karasinskiKarasinski's first contact with Upstate was at 4 months of age, when she had open heart surgery to repair an abnormality associated with Down Syndrome. In September 2009 when she was 20, she began an internship at Upstate through Project Search, a program that offers special youth job training at Upstate University Hospital. Now she works in payroll services.

Special Olympics New York was established in 1969 to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The organization says "athletes gain confidence and build a positive self-image, which carries into the classroom, the home, the workplace and the community."

Read the Syracuse.com story about Karasinski

Full schedule for the State Winter Games