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Two Dickinson athletes bound for Special Olympics USA Games

The Dickinson delegation of Nicole Hamel, Billy Pyfer and coaches Ryan Kilwein, Nicole Kilwein and Ken Stockert get together ahead of their departure for Seattle, Wash. (Photo courtesy of Kaia Watkins.)

More than 40 athletes and coaches from North Dakota will join thousands from around the country at the 2018 Special Olympic USA Games opening ceremony in Seattle, Wash., on July 1.

From that group, two competitors and three coaches hail from Dickinson.

Nicole Hamel and Billy Pyfer, along with Ryan Kilwein, wife Nicole Kilwein and Ken Stockert are all departing Fargo in the wee hours of the morning for the Pacific Northwest on Saturday.

Hamel, who has been a part of the group for 23 years, will compete in bowling, coached by Ryan Kilwein.

Pyfer will compete in track and field, with Nicole Kilwein as the Team North Dakota assistant track and field coach.

"Billy is very competitive. He's probably, if not the best, one of the best athletes in North Dakota," said Stockert, the bocce coach. "Nicole, she participates year-round, soccer, bocce, bowling, basketball, volleyball, swimming, track and field. They both participate all year round."

Pyfer has participated in the USA games in the past, as he traveled to New Jersey in 2014. He had the opportunity to go to the World Games in Athens in 2011, but was unable to attend.

Hamel, Pyfer and the rest of Team N.D. will kick off the games by walking in the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony, which will also feature performances by Charlie Puth and other artists. The opening and closing ceremonies will air on ESPN3.

During the days of competition, which stretch until the closing ceremony on Friday, June 6, athletes will participate in 14 different sports including gymnastics, powerlifting, paddle boarding, volleyball and more.

The Dickinson delegation won't be too busy competing to soak up Seattle. On Thursday, the group will travel to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners take on the Los Angeles Angels.

"There's Olympic town and healthy athletes, which goes over different things like dental, vision, eating, stuff like that, fitness," Ryan Kilwein said. "There will be some very good opportunities where they can get glasses or sunglasses if they don't need glasses. There's also Olympic town where there's games and a carnival."