What do Kobe Bryant, Nancy Kerrigan, and Dana Vollmer have in common? They all are Olympic athletes, superstars in their given fields. But to achieve that kind of status and skill requires a lot of practice—and maybe good genes mixed with a dash of good luck. You’ll have an opportunity to see future sports stars at the fifth annual Winter Games of Texas January 15 through 17. The event, which is hosted by the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation and is held in Frisco, features more than four thousand athletes, ranging in age from eight to eighty, honing their skills in sports such as basketball, figure skating, gymnastics, karate, swimming, and wrestling.

“Our main goal,” says TAAF president Susan Gerred, “is to teach these athletes at a young age the proper skills and how to compete.” The Winter Games were established as a complement to the Summer Games, which have been around for about twenty years. “When you compare the Winter Games or Summer Games to any other state, nothing comes close. There’s really no other statewide organization that’s set up like we are and has the support we have,” Gerred says. Established in 1925, TAAF is a nonprofit with more than 140 organizations and 210, 000 participants.

All of that organization and support translates into a first-rate event, and approximately 15,000 spectators will be in attendance to see the next Kerrigan, Bryant, or Vollmer. In fact, Vollmer, who received a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens for the 200 Meter Freestyle Relay team, set records in the 1998 and 1996 Summer Games in the ten and under category for the 25 Yard Butterfly and the 100 Yard IM. “It’s an opportunity for many local and statewide athletes to compete in an Olympic-style festival against similar competition,” explains TAAF executive director Mark Lord.

Smart fans will be looking for the next star gymnast: 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin trains in Plano, and her father recently opened a World Olympic Gymnastics Academy there. “Sports and competition are the end products of fitness,” explains Lord. “We keep kids, adults, and young adults as active and involved as possible.” Yeah team!

For more information, go to www.taaf.com.