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Our Coaches

Floor hockey players in South Africa gather round their coach for a strategy session before a tournament held near Johannesburg. Photo by Will Schermerhorn

Was there a mentor, teacher or coach who made a difference in your life? The one who gave you the courage and determination to strive to be your best? The one who helped shape both your performance and your character? You can be that important person in someone else’s life.

More Than a Coach

Coaches teach the skills and spirit that define a true athlete. Coaches are role models and character-builders.

Special Olympics coaches go even further -- they help athletes with intellectual disabilities find their own strengths and abilities. They also show them how to build upon those strengths and improve every day.

As a Special Olympics coach, you bring enthusiasm, commitment and a positive attitude to each practice, event and competition. You will enrich the lives of our athletes in many life-changing ways. The skills and confidence an athlete learns through sports have a long and lasting effect. They can help an athlete succeed in school or even find a job.

Coaches also get a lot in return. They get to know athletes who inspire -- athletes who are brave and determined, despite the odds against them.  Coaches become more than teachers, mentors and role models -- they are seen as leaders in the community.  

About Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? Learn More

Coaching Excellence

Special Olympics is committed to Coaching Excellence -- because it benefits both coaches and athletes at the same time. In a supportive learning environment, coaches work to enhance athletes’ sport techniques, tactics and fitness.

One of our top Coaching Excellence goals calls for ongoing coaches’ education; this includes partnering with sports organizations to provide the highest and most up-to-date level of coaching knowledge. Coaching Excellence education helps our coaches better recognize each athlete’s potential. It also comes into play as we increase training and competition opportunities so that each athlete can reach -- or exceed -- their personal best.

As you can see, the focus and commitment is on the athletes. In this way, appropriate training helps coaches provide the best opportunities and experiences for athletes -- at every developmental level -- to reach their maximum potential.

Our coaches aim high and take pride in their athletes' achievements, which can often be life-changing moments. In the words of Annette Lynch, senior manager of Sports Partnerships, Special Olympics North America: “If better is possible, good is not enough.”


Special Olympics athletes with coach in a huddle.

Bringing Out the Best. Special Olympics coaches play an important role in the lives of Special Olympics athletes. 

Coaches Who Inspire -- and Are Inspired

Our coaches give Special Olympics athletes the chance to reach his or her potential --and find their dreams. At the same time, something special can happen.

For Mike Cohen, the surprise came after he began coaching young men with intellectual disabilities who loved basketball. With his training and guidance, the team grew in skill and confidence. They soon began competing against other Special Olympics teams throughout Florida. Soon, their classmates and neighborhood began to follow their games. For the first time, the young men were valued and praised in their community.

Coach Cohen expected Special Olympics to give purpose to these young men. But he didn’t expect to be transformed himself – by their courage and commitment. He also knew he had made a real difference in their lives. Now he is a key player in his local Special Olympics Program. He encourages everyone he knows to get involved.


Stories About Our Coaches


February 17, 2015 | North America: Jamaica

Jamaica Unified Floorball on Show

By Victor L Brown SOJ Floorball Coordinator

European Selects and Maroons Unified FC

On February 7, 2015 Special Olympics Jamaica held a Unified Sports Day under which our Maroons Floorball programme was given the opportunity to show onlookers what the Sport is all about at high skill level.View Story On February 7, 2015 Special Olympics Jamaica held a Unified Sports Day under which our Maroons Floorball programme was given the opportunity to show onlookers what the Sport is all about at high skill level. Thanks to the Jamaica Floorball Association who had arranged for some European resources to come to Jamaica (for six months) on a bilingual exchange programme which included coaching Floorball in schools and to the existing clubs, we have been able to take advantage of having these resources readily available and have taken very opportunity to work with them. “This interaction is in-keeping with the SO thrust for Inclusion in Sports and through the Maroons we also meet the Unified Sports thrust.” The match on February 7th was very entertaining, with the Maroons jumping into a 2 nil lead by mid-way in the first period. The Europeans came back with a goal before the end of the period. After some stubborn resistance from the Maroons, the Europeans netted twice in the second period and finished off the match with three more goals in the third. “These match interactions, regardless of the results, serve to provide focus training points to address the shortfalls in team and individual court play and overall skills. At the end of every interaction (regular training or match), the coaching team comes together to analyse what took place and design specific drills for the next training session. It is important that this coaching activity takes place so that the slow uphill skills enhancement journey can be well organized and the appropriate thinking can go into our training plans.” We take this opportunity to thank our European friends for becoming a part of the Global Inclusion Thrust and for sharing with us their skills. We look forward to Floorball being an official Sport at the 2017 Winter Games and are preparing athletes to play the traditional SO three-on-three version of the Sport

About Victor L Brown SOJ Floorball Coordinator:I've been coordinating Special Olympics Jamaica Floorball since 2011
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February 13, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Unified Sports Pair Shines on Ice

By Tappie Dellinger

Unified Sports Skating Pair Ashley Tanner and Cassidy Smith performing at the Smuckers' Skating Spectacular

At the end of January, a Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Sports ice skating pair from Mecklenburg County got the once –in –a-lifetime honor to perform in the 2015 Smuckers’ Skating Spectacular in Greensboro.View Story At the end of January, a Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Sports ice skating pair from Mecklenburg County got the once –in –a-lifetime honor to perform in the 2015 Smuckers’ Skating Spectacular in Greensboro along with many of the champions and medalists from the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Special Olympics Mecklenburg County athlete Ashley Tanner, 18, has been partnered with Cassidy Smith, 19, for less than a year as a Unified sports pair. The pair train under Coach Tappie Dellinger at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, NC. The Unified Sports pair skated to a medley of Michael Jackson’s hit songs. Tanner attends Butler High School in Matthews and Smith is a freshman at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. They both entered this event nervous but excited.

About Tappie Dellinger:Tappie Dellinger - I am the Coach of this Unified Sports pair and am so blessed they are in my life! They are a true inspiration!
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February 13, 2015 | North America: Hawaii

FARRINGTON HIGH SCHOOL KALIHI, HAWAII

By Evelyn Utai

Our Friends Program on our bowling field trip.

We are going on our third year promoting the R-Word Campaign and this year we are doing it big. We are the Farrington Governors (GOVS).View Story We are going on our third year promoting the R-Word Campaign and this year we are doing it big. We are the Farrington Governors (GOVS). This year we are encouraging one more GOV to take the pledge not only by signing the banner, but actually logging in online and making the numbers grow. Please join us as a school and community we encourage #ONEMOREGOV to take that pledge to end the R-Word.

About Evelyn Utai:Aloha, my name is Evelyn Uta'i and I am an education assistant at Farrington High School. At Farrington High School we are taking the pledge to the end the R-Word.
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February 03, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Luxembourg

Agents of Change: ''Unified Youth Activation'' in Special Olympics Luxembourg

By Romy Bertemes, Barbara Oehl (Ecole Privée Sainte-Anne, Luxembourg)

Special Olympics Luxembourg hosted a youth activation workshop on 9 January 2015, in cooperation with Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, to empower young people on how to end inactivity, injustice and intolerance towards people with intellectual disabilities.View Story Special Olympics Luxembourg hosted a youth activation workshop on 9 January 2015, in cooperation with Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, to empower young people on how to end inactivity, injustice and intolerance towards people with intellectual disabilities and of course to have fun doing it! The unified summit, led by A. Krukowska of Special Olympics in Europe Eurasia, was for both Special Olympics Luxembourg-athletes and Special Olympics Luxembourg-volunteers from Sainte-Anne's (Ettelbruck), where a weekly unified training has been offered since October 2014 with the help of more than 30 dedicated pupils. During the workshop, the athletes and volunteers shared their experiences with ID, reflected on the benefits of the weekly trainings, learnt about what it takes to be a "youth leader", and took first steps towards creating structures which allow them to spread the message of Special Olympics more effectively outside the training sessions. Bigger, faster and stronger!

About Romy Bertemes, Barbara Oehl (Ecole Privée Sainte-Anne, Luxembourg):Romy Bertemes is sports teacher and Barbara Oehl is English Teacher at Ecole Privée Sainte-Anne and they initiated Special Olympics Luxembourg weekly Training Sessions "Play Unified".
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January 19, 2015 | North America: Northern California

SHERYL

By Jim Cole

I worked(???) for Special Olympics for 10 years..I was blessed to meet a very young girl --She was TRULY SPECIAL...We went to ALL the local events and TWICE to STATE GAMES..View Story I worked(???) for Special Olympics for 10 years..I was blessed to meet a very young girl --She was TRULY SPECIAL...We went to ALL the local events and TWICE to STATE GAMES..What a GREAT athlete and better still--A DELIGHTFUL person..I have NOT seen Sheryl in many years..BUT!!!!! this summer we will meet again as her family will be in the FRIDAY HARBOR area..CAN't wait,,But I WILL!!!

About Jim Cole:I was lucky enough(in my younger days)to be a coach for group of TRACK athletes.In my eighties now.I graduated as a PE major--became a builder..I spent 10 GLORIOUS years with these KIDS (8--63) I WAS lucky
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January 19, 2015 | North America: Jamaica

Special Olympics Jamaica Floorball Goalkeeper Gets “Special Instructions”

By Victor L. Brown, SOJ Floorball Coordinator

Greg instructing Oshain

Oshain Daley is a Special Olympics Jamaica athlete who will benefit from resources that have been arranged by the Jamaica Floorball Association (JFA) to be on-island until March 2015.View Story Oshain Daley is a Special Olympics Jamaica athlete who will benefit from resources that have been arranged by the Jamaica Floorball Association (JFA) to be on-island until March 2015. Gregoire Schneider, (former Goalkeeper for UHC Biel Seeland and former President of UC Corcelles-Cormodrèche in Switzerland) has agreed to provide some observations and instruction to Oshain to improve his Goalkeeping skills and techniques Gregoire has already observed that “Oshain has a good basic positioning and we’ll be working on helping him to keep it when he is moving in front of on-coming players. I would also say that Oshain has good reflexes”. “This is a great opportunity for Oshain to get first hand expert advice to improve his skills. We thank the JFA for bringing this resource on-island. Gregoire’s length of stay is timely as we are looking towards the 2015 Canada Cup. With this direct intervention we are sure that Oshain will improve on the good showing at the 2014 event.” Wayne Roberts, Assistant Coach, Youth Development.

About Victor L. Brown, SOJ Floorball Coordinator:I've been coordinating the development of SOJ Floorball for 3-years. We have traditional athletes (to include wheelchair) and a Unified team that has played at the 2014 Canada Cup
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December 24, 2014 | Why I Support Special Olympics

Friends before Coach

By Tara Power

2010 came as any other year would, with the promise I would accomplish and change and become a better me. The only thing different about 2010 is that my life was about to change forever.View Story 2010 came as any other year would, with the promise I would accomplish and change and become a better me. The only thing different about 2010 is that my life was about to change forever. I started work with a young girl my age and we became the best of friends, sisters you could say, who by chance was also a Special Olympics athlete. After only a short amount of time I became a volunteer, only a year later I became a coach. I laughed, I cried, I've had the best time of my life. I quickly came to realize that while I helped the Special Olympics athletes, they were helping me. I had new meaning to my life, I had another reason to wake up in the morning. I now had purpose, and I belonged to something much bigger. A family. I thank God every day that he has given me the chance to make a difference in so many lives, and I thank him for giving me the chance to become the friend of the one person who would change my life forever. Tara Power Coach with SOCB Head coach Young Athletes Corner Brook

About Tara Power:
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