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Area sponsors bring soccer player Mia Hamm to town

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CoxHealth has signed on as the presenting sponsor to bring professional soccer player and Olympian Mia Hamm on Feb. 12 to the Springfield Expo Center, 635 E. St. Louis St., to kick off the 2011 Missouri Winter Games.

Hamm will hold a soccer clinic and speak to the crowd at 2 p.m. The Expo Center will open at 11 a.m.

"Hamm is one of the best female soccer players in the world and is an incredible person who has an overall great attitude," said Jeff Collins, Missouri Winter Games executive director. "That's what we try to teach these young athletes."

While CoxHealth is the presenting sponsor for the event, title sponsors are J&K Soccer, Great Southern Bank and Opfer Communications, Collins said.

Hamm will arrive in Springfield late tonight and stay at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, one of the sponsors of the games.

The event is the kickoff for the Missouri Winter Games, an all ages national event held in Springfield, now in its sixth year.

Winter games events begin Feb. 19 with wrestling, and will continue into March with gymnastics, a winter run, bowling, trapshooting, racquetball, table tennis, swimming and volleyball.

For the 2011 games, gold sponsors are John Q. Hammons Hotels, radio station 105.9 KGBX and the Springfield Gymnastics and Aquatics Center. Silver sponsors are University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, CoxHealth and DoubleTree Hotel. Bronze sponsors are Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Great Southern and National Safety Compliance.

In 2010, Missouri Winter Games kicked off the games with Shawn Johnson, Olympic gymnast and the eighth winner of "Dancing with the Stars."

"We started a tradition in bringing top notch athletes that have great character qualities and are great examples of role models," Collins said, adding that in previous years, the games started by bringing in athletes such as Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin and Olympic wrestler Rulon Gardner.

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