Cody Field is not your average athlete.
The 21-year-old Special Olympian won three gold medals at the 2013 World Special Olympics Winter Games in South Korea and has been named to the Special Olympics Hall of Fame.
And now, Field has been named to the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified Soccer Team.
Yet, despite all of his success, or maybe because of it, Field remains a team player who knows the value of friendship and good sportsmanship.
“I always treat people like they should be treated,” he said. “As a people person, I always try to be social and kind. Kill 'em with kindness if I have to.”
Field has bipolar disorder and Asperger's, but with help from his family and his doctors, he has been able to excel in activities like Special Olympics.
He began Special Olympics in 2004 with swimming. Over the years he has participated in softball, soccer, swimming, skiing, basketball and snowboarding, all through Special Olympics. The rigorous practice schedule can be demanding, but he does it first and foremost for enjoyment.
“For him, it's just play,” Cody's sister Nellie Field said. “He doesn't feel like it's a lot of discipline; it's just fun.”
To make the Rapids Unified Team, which has both Special Olympics and non-Special Olympics athletes, Field had to go to tryouts and then wait to hear about the results until after a second set of tryouts.
Watching his sister play soccer inspired Field to play again, and he waited to hear back with bated breath. His mother, Karen Field, said that he was a wreck after tryouts, nervous that he was not going to make the cut.
When he found out he made the team, Field described his reaction as “overpowered excited.” His acceptance to the team marks his first time playing soccer since he was 9, when he played with a recreational team. Other players on the recreational team were not very supportive of Field, and the family decided that Special Olympics would be a better fit for him. That proved to be the case.
“Special Olympics athletics has been the savior — the best thing that's ever happened to Cody,” his father, Mark Field, said.
Indeed, Special Olympics has given Field opportunities that very few people have. He competed in the Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games in South Korea, where he won three gold medals in snowboarding. And because he was in South Korea, he had the chance to meet his pen pal, who came to watch him race.
Field also trained with the other athletes on the U.S. team, and this involved traveling without his family for a week. The Games marked new experiences all around for Cody, and he met them head-on.
Special Olympics has helped Field come into his own not only as an athlete, but in all other areas of life as well. He said that Special Olympics has taught him to have better sportsmanship and has helped him to value friendship, family and honor.
Special Olympics has helped him come a long way, and joining the Rapids team is another adventure for him. Field recognizes his progress and looks forward to continuing it.
“When I was on the podium,” he said, “I thought to myself, `look how far I've come; let's roll it!' ”