Patty Hermann, MsEd., CTRS
STARS CEO & Founder & USAG Professional

Patty holds an undergraduate and graduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation and Administration from Winona State University and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and USAG instructor with over 25 years of special needs program design and gymnastics coaching experience. She's coached 5 Special Olympic World Champions, 15 National Champions and has coached hundreds of special needs gymnasts. Patty represents the USA on the Special Olympics International Gymnastics Committee.
As a young child, Patty was a patient at Shriners Hospital in Oak Park . Throughout her stays in the hospital Patty learned that she had a unique touch for individuals with special needs. In the sixth grade Patty began to pursue her dreams and started her first fundraiser (a dance marathon) to fund create programs for special people. Throughout her teen and teen years, at age 15, Patty became the youngest member of the Muscular Dystrophy Associations Camp Staff. She served as the Muscular Dystrophy Activities Director for 9 years and held various volunteer positions that lead her to her chosen career in parks and Therapeutic Recreation.

In 2003, with the help of her family and friends, she founded her own Foundation (ELITE STARS) and works actively to secure funding for over 150 special needs athletes and their peer coaches. Today, the Foundation – ELITE houses a USAG club sanctioned gymnastics team, ISI Figure Skating Team and UCA Competitive Cheer Team, Competitive Dance Team and Competitive Strength & Power Team. Continuously raising the bar and creating opportunities for special individuals, Patty has made this her passion. Surrounded by her husband John, son Jake, mother Pat and brother Chris and his family, she has been able to create unique opportunities that enrich the lives of special athletes around the USA and has proudly defied the perception that special people cannot be highly trained competitive athletes.

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Danielle Norini
Head Cheerleading & Fitness Coach

Danielle holds an undergraduate degree in Special Education from Illinois State University.  She also maintains a graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois. She is certified in Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI), CPR and First Aid.  Danielle currently specializes in teaching students with severe and profound disabilities. In addition to teaching, she is a member of a committee that develops the curriculum skills and assessments that are implemented throughout the La Grange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE) programs.  She represents (LADSE) in various forms of assessments and behavioral techniques.

As a young child, Danielle was introduced to the world of disabilities and special education with the birth of her cousin.  Danielle made it a goal in her life to give not only him, but all persons with disabilities the opportunity to do and accomplish anything.  She feels that with time, patience, and opportunity, persons with disabilities can accomplish and succeed further than what most persons expect.

In 2005, upon graduating with her undergraduate degree, Danielle began teaching.  Along with teaching she put her few years of sideline cheerleading and volleyball to action when she began coaching.  Danielle has been coaching volleyball for six years.  She coaches volleyball for Saint Isaac Jogues School in Hinsdale, Illinois.  Her main passion is with the ELITE STARS program.  She has served as a head coach in the cheerleading program since 2006.  In 2007 Danielle began helping out at Gymnastic practice and has now found an active role as coach.  With the support of her family and friends, Danielle actively coaches Gymnastics and Cheerleading as well as will be heading up a Fitness division for the athletes of the ELITE STARS.  Danielle serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the STARS program.

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Sandy Burke
Head Female Gymnastics Coach

Sandy has worked as a part of the ELITE STARS program for the past 8 years. She currently attends DePaul University where she is working on her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Her plans after graduating are to be a high school math teacher. Sandy’s coaching techniques and philosophy come from her background in gymnastics. She was a competitive gymnast for 10 years, and uses those experiences to provide the best training atmosphere for our athletes to achieve their utmost potential.  Outside of the gym Sandy has always strived for academic and extracurricular success. In high school she was a part of the National Honors Society, and in 2008 she was awarded the Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor.  Both of these honors were achieved because of her commitment to the ELITE STARS program.

Now in college, Sandy is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority and works at the university recreation center.  She continues to enhance our curriculum and maximize opportunities that can best help our special athletes excel in life and sport. She is easy going and efficient and will get the job done. Sandy brings rich values, lots of determination and a will to succeed into everyday which makes her an amazing person to work with.  Sandy serves as the Assistant to Patty in many capacities as she oversees various aspects of the STARS program.

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Paula Parat
Head Cheeleading Coach
USAG Professional & H.S. Head Coach for Cheer & Gymnastics

Paula holds a BS in Education and is a special education teacher.  She is a leader in the special education and sport adaptation for gymnasts and cheerleaders with special needs.  She brings over 30 years of coaching, training, and competitive experience to the STARS program.  As a former Circus acrobat, Paula is no stranger to performance, entertainment and difficulty, all of which she brings to the table for her special athletes.  Paula has been the USA's advocate for brining special needs cheerleading to the forefront on the national level.  Her energy and expertise allow our athletes to excel to the highest level.  Paula actively pursues opportunities to stimulate athletes with special needs and create a competitive forum for them to excel nationally and worldwide.  With many honors to her credit, Paula exceeds the scope of traditional coaching and works non stop with Patty to make the Stars program the best in the world for special needs athletes and their peer mentors.

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Michael Jones
Stars Ice Skating Coach & President of Elite Stars Foundation

Michael holds a BS in Business Administration. He has over 30 yrs. experience in insurance and management. He has extensive education regarding bodily injury, rehabilitation, and physical therapy. Michael has coached athletes for over 30 yrs. He believes everyone should have the opportunity to try a sport in which they have an interest. He feels it is his duty to help them eliminate their fears and do their best. He is a Wing Chun Kung Fu instructor. He was on the coaching staff for Hoffman Estates H.S. Special Olympics team. He is a board member on two national non-for-profit organizations. He enjoys volunteering and has been with this organization from the beginning.

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Olivia Gualano
Head Figure Skating Coach

Olivia currently attends Hoffman Estates High School and plans is to attend college at ISU and become a Special Education teacher. Olivia started training in figure skating at the age of 7.  Over the years, Olivia has won over 200 medals and trophies in figure skating, and has the great accomplishment of earning 95% first place medals and 5% second or third place medals. Olivia decided to stop her training at fifteen so that she could make herself more available to coach her special students. She is fun and energetic, and is the youngest ISI member/ head coach EVER in the history of ISI. Professional vendors have used photos of Olivia to sell their products and market their services. Olivia commits herself to various volunteer opportunities year round, such as; a Special Education cooking class at Harper College, a Special Education bowling class, and also supports the ELITE STARS gymnasts. Olivia has known that wanted to help and teach kids with special needs since she was 4 years old.  Her passion and skills in and for the sport of figure skating and special athletes makes her a valuable asset to the STARS organization.

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Sarah Masucci
Head Competitive Dance Coach

Sarah is a graduate of Fremd High School and now a student of student Harper College. She is there to help in her decision of where life is going to take her. During Sarah’s time at Fremd, Sarah held the position of a captain on their Orchesis Team as well as their new competitive dance team. She began dancing at the age of 2 where she danced at Bonnie Lindholm School of Dance, Northwest Ballet Academy, and Schaumburg Dance Ensemble. Some of Sarah’s accomplishments include performing on live television for the Disney Magic Lights Festival on the Magnificent Mile, performing in Disney World Epcot, danced on Oprah’s televised anniversary episode in Chicago under the Black Eyed Peas, and was on a Comcast dance instructional pilot video. Sarah also works as the coach of the 5/6 and7/8 grade Junior Pom Teams at Fremd High School.  On top of this she also works with the gymnastics program of the Elite Stars where she helps in choreographing routines and perfecting the dance aspect of each gymnast’s performance. Her biggest accomplishment thus far in her career has been starting the first Special Needs Competitive Dance Team in the World under the Elite Stars program at the age of 16. The team has been recognized at every competition with many awards for their performance skills at competition including, Showstoppers, Starpower, and Energy Dance Competition. This past year, the Dance Team had the opportunity of dancing for the cast of Dance Moms and was invited to dance at a national level. They have also been asked to perform at numerous high schools. Sarah has removed the perception that athletes with special needs cannot comprehend a difficult choreography as she has exceeded all expectations on the local and national levels with our Elite Stars Competitive Dance Team.

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Bob Klauck
Head Male Gymnastics & Cheerleading Coach

Bob competed high school gymnastics for four years at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, IL.  After graduating he came back and volunteer coached for a season.  From there he moved to Cheer Illinois Athletics where he started to coach tumbling, gymnastics and eventually a Sr. Level 3 Co-ed cheer team.  Bob also competed for one year for Cheer Illinois Athletics International Level 5 Open team where he competed at the World’s competition in 2010.  Bob came to the Elite Stars program in 2009 as a cheer coach and has evolved in the programs most progressive male coach. Last season Bob stepped into the male gymnastics role in 2010 and has been a wonderful asset to the curriculum and instruction of our programs and services.  He works exceptionally well with the entire staff, athletes and their families.  Bob recruits families, athletes and is always putting forth a challenge for our athletes.

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