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Spotlight on Special O: Athletes, new and returning, back at it

Also, coaches weigh in on what coaching means to them
New SOSC athlete Elsa (left) and her mom Diane (right).

Well, it’s that time of year again. Leaves are littering the ground, nights are getting cooler and best of all, Special Olympics is back at it! 

Registration was a great event that included pizza, social time, catching up and meeting friends old and new. In total, 39 athletes registered, with four new athletes joining our ranks. This bodes well for the 2023/2024 season. 

New athlete, Elsa, has lived on the Sunshine Coast for five years. This is her first time joining SOSC. She is looking forward to demonstrating her swimming skills. Elsa first learned of Special Olympics after meeting Cathy Verge (swim head coach). She was excited to attend registration to see old friends and meet new ones. 

Brothers Jonas and Keighan knew of Special O since elementary school through social connections and reading about it in the newspaper. Jonas has signed up for basketball and track & field. He enjoys running and has recently found more free time to enjoy sports. Keighan also signed up for basketball as well as bocce and softball. 

Of course, what is an athlete without a coach? National Coaches Week was celebrated from Sept. 16 to 24. #ThanksCoach. We appreciate all you do and your dedication to your athletes. 

I asked some of our esteemed coaches what coaching means to them. 

Soccer coach Richard Hoath: “For me, it is an opportunity to build relationships with athletes where we both learn through giving it a go.” 

Track & Field Coach Tania Finnigan: “I think I like to try and inspire athletes to challenge themselves physically and mentally. I love exercising and I hope the passion I have for it rubs off on everyone I coach.” 

Golf coach Chuck Bertrand: “I love to see the smile when an athlete reaches a personal goal, I have coached many different sports over half a century. For me coaching Special Olympic athletes is by far the most rewarding, I always go home smiling.” 

In recognition of the value of coaching, SOBC continually offers training and development courses both online and in person. This month, coaches are invited to attend a Volunteer Professional Development Webinar on Oct. 19. It will focus on Indigenous history in Canada and discuss intergenerational impacts as well the importance of physical activity in the lives of First Nations cultures. 

It will be presented by INclusion INcorporated, an organization committed to diversity and inclusion through training and putting that training into action. 

Our athletes are looking forward to being active in the pool, the court and the rink. Swimming and basketball will take place in Gibsons and Sechelt and curling in Gibsons.  Most programs will begin after Thanksgiving. Watch this space!