NFL Player Turned Staffer is "Hooked"

января 25, 2010

A former professional player with the National Football League, Tony Covington understands the meaning of "the power of sports"--on and off the playing field.  He told us about the difference he sees in Special Olympics athletes and how his own worldview has been transformed.

Former NFL player Tony Covington smiles with a with Special Olympics athlete

Tony Covington's worldview has been transformed after meeting Special Olympics athletes.

A Chance to Compete

Tony Covington's introduction to nonprofits came while he played professional sports, with the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.   Remembering the impact of his own role models when he was growing up, Tony sought out opportunities to be involved and speak to kids in the community.  When someone suggested looking at nonprofit work as a professional path, it just went from there.  Today he calls himself  'a lifer' - "I've been hooked every since, feeling like I am changing lives and affecting change."  That path led him to come on board full time with Special Olympics, to help raise awareness and build programs in schools and the local community.

Although Tony always understood the power of sports to transform, everything changed when he met Special Olympics athletes.  It was the height of local summer games.  At an aquatics event, Tony saw a young girl in the pool, swimming, trying to get to the finish line. Her fellow swimmers were all already out of the water and cheering her on. 

This was a defining moment.  A competitive player, Tony always believed that those who say "it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" have never played themselves.  He recalls watching in awe -- the girl in the water and the cheering crowd -- and having an 'aha' moment.  He then realized that it is not about winning or losing, but having a chance to compete, push your own boundaries, and cross the finish line.

"Sports teach you life skills, team work, and about working hard. The competition brings out self-confidence.  To be the best you can be, you have to work hard at it – and it’s not just about sport, it’s about your life being shaped by what you learn from sports."

Beyond athletics, Special Olympics is about raising awareness and helping people with intellectual disabilities belong and thrive.  "We have significant concerns about acceptance and inclusion in school systems," he says "our athletes go through a lot of health disparities."

"When talking to the athletes they tell me about being excluded, feeling like they are not a part of society.  Special Olympics helps them gain self-confidence, feel included, and realize they are not alone.  Beyond the sports field, they gain confidence to hold jobs, take college courses, to belong."

For Tony Covington the course is clear – getting the message out;  raising awareness;  promoting inclusion and acceptance for Special Olympics athletes; and letting the world know that Special Olympics is a vehicle for change.


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Помогите нам привлечь еще одного олимпийца

Поддержка »

Найдите информацию о региональном мероприятии и узнайте больше о возможностях для волонтеров в одном из 220 представительств организации по всему миру.

Найдите ближайшее представительство »

Our Supporters

AVSC RecordThe most successful benefit recording in musical history.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Bank of AmericaProud partner of Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Coca-ColaSpecial Olympics Founding Partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

ESPNGlobal Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports®.Learn More »


Our Supporters

EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Health One GlobalGlobal health data technology partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Hear the WorldSupplies hearing aids to our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MattelSupports Special Olympics Youth Programs.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Procter & GambleCelebrating over 30 years of partnership with Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Y&RPowering our global youth marketing campaign.Learn more »


Special Olympics Blog

Bursting with Pride

"I’m looking forward to the day when Mary will become a Special Olympics Young Athlete. I cannot wait."read more »

Posted on 2014-07-25 by Ryan

go to blog »



*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan