Search

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.

Become a Coach

To become a coach, get in touch with Special Olympics near you.

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.

We partner with sports organizations to provide the highest and most up-to-date level of coaching knowledge. 

Coaching education helps our coaches recognize each athlete’s potential. It also comes into play as we increase training and competition. Those opportunities help each athlete can reach -- or exceed -- their personal best.

Special Olympics focuses on our athletes. 

Our coaches aim high and take pride in their athletes' achievements, which can often be life-changing moments. 


Stories About Our Coaches


November 21, 2016 | North America: Pennsylvania

Bucks County Athletes showing their Eye of the Tiger at Rocky Balboa Run

By Tim Damiani

Athletes from Bucks County along with Unified partners, coaches, family and friends participated in the Rocky Balboa Run.View Story On a chilly November morning a week after fall fest 11 athletes from Bucks County along with unified partners, coaches, family and friends participated in the Rocky Balboa Run to benefit Special Olympics Pennsylvania Philly. The event featured a 5k and a 10 mile race. All the athletes did the 5k and 7 of the athletes ran both the 5k and 10 miler collecting the Italian Stallion Challenge medal of running the length of 13.1 miles or a half marathon. Running the 5k was Kaelene Ponak, Ken Renson, Karl Dickersbach, Billy Rigefsky, Kevin Grow, Nick Caywood. Athletes, Unified Partners, and Coaches competing in the 13.1 mile challenge were Nic Canup, Dominique O'Hanlon, Chris Griffith, Erik Griffith, Harrison Bell, Tim Damiani, Brynn Zwickel, Tom Delaney, & Chris Thompson - who paced Chris Griffith to a 22 minute 5k and a 1:20:00 in the 10 miler placing 3rd in his age group. I am so proud of these athletes for all of their accomplishments. They definitely have the eye of the tiger and the heart of champions.

About Tim Damiani:Coach for Bucks County Special Olympics for Athletics and Long Distance Running and Walking
Share
View less ▲

November 10, 2016 | Africa: Swaziland

Achieving Their Personal Best: A Coach’s Story from Swaziland

By Sabelo Dlamini

Sabelo Dlamini, a 37 year old teacher at Kwaluseni Infant Primary School, was inspired to join Special Olympics by his belief that sport has the power to create joy and unity in schools and communities.

As a coach, my thinking has changed towards people living with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics, through sports, helps people see themselves for their abilitie.View Story Coaching is a great avenue for people who love sports, and want to work closely with children or adults with intellectual disabilities. As a coach, you bring enthusiasm, commitment and a positive attitude to each practice and competition. People with an intellectual disability are often misunderstood, isolated and ignored. They are not formally recognized in my country, Swaziland. Yet with understanding and support, they often achieve beyond expectation. As a coach, my thinking has changed towards people living with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics, through sports, helps people see themselves for their abilities, not disabilities. I’ve seen it help many people in different communities accept and involve people with intellectual disabilities, and help them make friends. Let’s help people with intellectual disabilities be accepted and valued members of the community. Let’s also give people with an intellectual disability a chance to achieve their personal best.

About Sabelo Dlamini:I am a 37 year old teacher at Kwaluseni Infant Primary School, and a volunteer coach for Special Olympics Swaziland.
Share
View less ▲

October 25, 2016 | North America: Ohio

I Am Autistic

By Nick Sarfaty

I can't compete in varsity sports in high school because my skill level is low but Special Olympics gave me the chance no one else would give me.View Story I can't compete in varsity sports in high school because my skill level is low but Special Olympics gave me the chance no one else would give me. I do not get called the R-Word there and I enjoyed it despite not making the world games.

About Nick Sarfaty:I am autistic and I am currently 17 years old. I was born and raised in Columbus,Ohio. I love to watch and participate in sports.
Share
View less ▲

October 03, 2016 | Asia Pacific: Australia

Again, A Bully

By michael landy

It's a term used to belittle and an oppressive term that inpacts on all people with a disability and seeing people as less than non-disabled people.View Story Again someone sends me a cyber bullying message calling me retarded. It's a term used to belittle and an oppressive term that inpacts on all people with a disability and seeing people as less than non-disabled people. It's like any other slur. It's oppresive in nature and has no place being used in a decent society.

About michael landy:I am a man with a disability who is tired of this word
Share
View less ▲

September 23, 2016 | North America: Iowa

Living Unified: Tiffany & Robin

By Lori Emery

Robin Hair, left, and Tiffany Bauerly play on a Special Olympics Unified Sports bowling team.

Special Olympics athlete Robin Hair and Unified partner Tiffany Bauerly of Iowa have lived and played unified for more than 12 yearsView Story Special Olympics athlete Robin Hair and Unified partner Tiffany Bauerly of Iowa have lived and played unified for more than 12 years. They are proud to be part of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. Tiffany was in college when she met Robin. Tiffany and Robin go to know each other through going bowling every week in Sioux City, Iowa. That led to a great friendship. After more than a decade, they are bowling once again through Special Olympics Unified Sports. Tiffany said that being a Unified Partner has been great for her. Unified Partners get to play alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities. Many develop friendships that would most likely not be available in the world outside of Special Olympics. Read more about their friendship at the link below.

About Lori Emery:As the delegation manager for the Sioux City Knights Special Olympics Iowa team, I have seen the impact that Unified Sports has had on so many of our athletes and families. This story features two of our Unified bowlers. Their story is one of how living a unified lifestyle that was started years ago has brought them even closer together doing the sport they love through Special Olympics.
Share
View less ▲

August 30, 2016 | Asia Pacific: Indonesia

Everyone is unique and special

By Chyntia Poedjokerto

Everyone is created differently. With different characteristic, different physically and different ability.View Story Everyone is created differently. With different characteristic, different physically and different ability. No one should deserve to be called retarded when they are different. When we talk about different. What standard are we comparing with as everyone is different.

About Chyntia Poedjokerto:I am a parent coach of special needs children. Parents must focus on the child's ability instead of disability.
Share
View less ▲

August 12, 2016 | Europe Eurasia: Great Britain

R word

By Ange

I live in Great Britain and many years ago the word commonly used for Down syndrome was "spastic" retarded was used as well.View Story I live in Great Britain and many years ago the word commonly used for Down syndrome was "spastic" retarded was used as well. Finally in this modern world we refer to these types of conditions as special needs. I have a child with special needs he is autistic. In this country it is offensive to use words such as spastic or retarded although they are still heard but a lot less often.these offensive words and phrases are passed down from parent to child no child is born to hate or disrespect they are taught to hate and disrespect.

About Ange:
Share
View less ▲