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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.

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 06, 2017 | Europe Eurasia: Hellas (Greece)

THE DREAM COME TRUE

By Nikolas Koukoulakis

Image of athlete Nikolas Koukoulakis.

I have been a weightlifting athlete since I was 13 years old. Ever since then, my dream was to become a weightlifting coach. I wanted to join University of Physical Education and Sports Science through the competition but I failed due to an accident on my back.View Story I have been a weightlifting athlete since I was 13 years old. Ever since then, my dream was to become a weightlifting coach. I wanted to join University of Physical Education and Sports Science through the competition but I failed due to an accident on my back. At the age of 29 I got non hodgkin's lymphoma stage 4 with metastasis in bones and colon. After chemotherapy and brain radiation I got Parkinson's disease. I joined University of Sports at the age of 40 years old. I finished with specialty in weightlifting and biology of sports. I became power lifting coach at Special Olympics Hellas, I also participate in power lifting competitions at master category having the world record in GPA-IPO at the position of dead lift with 160 kgm at 67,5 kgm body weight. I wish my condition with Parkinson will be ok so I can be with my athletes in Abu Dhabi at the World Games in 2019. I believe that a coach must be an example for his athletes. That's what I am trying to be.

About Nikolas Koukoulakis:Nikolas Koukoulakis is a Special Olympics athlete from Greece.
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October 30, 2017 | Europe Eurasia: Ireland

Floorball Coaches Meet in Dublin

By Colin Kenny

Floorball coaches learn how to apply performance analysis to their coaching systems during the workshop.

As floorball’s popularity grows every day in our movement across the globe, Dublin played host to a unique Special Olympics Floorball coaching seminar. Funded through the kind support of the European Union, the seminar took place at the Dublin National Sports Campus and was facilitated by Performa SView Story As floorball’s popularity grows every day in our movement across the globe, Dublin played host to a unique Special Olympics Floorball coaching seminar. Funded through the kind support of the European Union, the seminar took place at the Dublin National Sports Campus and was facilitated by Performa Sports who provide software for coaches to analyze their team’s performances. Some of the athletes from the Special Olympic Ireland Floorball team who went to Austria World Games also joined the session to share their experiences. The seminar was very enthusiastically received by all coaches. Kennet Rosén from Special Olympics Sweden said that “it was a very interesting weekend. It was great to talk with the other coaches on the seminar and to get their inputs.” All coaches will get to use the Performa Sports app for a trial period and some key recommendations will be made about how technology can be used by coaches afterward to in turn boost the skills of our athletes. Exciting times ahead!

About Colin Kenny:Corporate Development Executive, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia
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October 13, 2017 | Middle East North Africa: Egypt

First female coaches training in the MENA region!

By Noha Gaballah

Coaches and participants pose for a picture

Special Olympics Egypt held the first female coaches training in football in Alexandria under the auspices of the Ministry of youth and sports and in partnership with the premier league. The premier skills program promotes the coaching, English language skills and train coaches & referees how to useView Story Special Olympics Egypt held the first female coaches training in football in Alexandria under the auspices of the Ministry of youth and sports and in partnership with the premier league. The premier skills program promotes the coaching, English language skills and train coaches & referees how to use football to bring positivity to their communities through the power of football.Fifty Female coaches from different governorates were trained as SO Egypt program aim to increase the pool of female coaches in Egypt in preparation of the Special Olympics MENA First Unified Female Football cup that will be held in December 2017.

About Noha Gaballah:Special Olympics Middle East / North Africa Communications Manager
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July 31, 2017 | North America: Virginia

Area 11 in Virginia now has Gymnastics!

By Shae Carro

Our first season of gymnastics starts this fall of 2017 and we could not be more excited!View Story I came into the Special Olympics program many years ago, coaching basketball and track and field. (Soccer and gymnastics in the upcoming season.) Noticing during winter many of the kids loved cheerleading and thought gymnastics would be a great accommodation to our program. It took almost two years to finally get it approved and started! And the time is almost here to start. Our first season of gymnastics starts this fall of 2017 and we could not be more excited!

About Shae Carro:I have coached basketball, track and field, soccer (this season), and gymnastics (this season). I have been to winter and summer games over the course of my years coaching. I decided to stay local for college to continue to run the gymnastics program while I am continuing my study of special education.
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May 26, 2017 | Europe Eurasia: Germany

The First Europe-Eurasia Mini-Basketball Coaches Seminar

By Fiona Murray

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Mini-Basketball Coaches Seminar Delegation

Twenty-one Special Olympics delegates arrived in Germany to join the first Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Mini Basketball Coaches Seminar.View Story Twenty-one Special Olympics athletes arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, to join the first Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Mini Basketball Coaches Seminar. The seminar marked an important milestone in the strong and active partnership between Special Olympics Europe Eurasia and FIBA Europe as they collaborated for the first time on the delivery of a coaching seminar. The participants attended a combination of Special Olympics and FIBA Europe led sessions. Special Olympics sessions explored competition management and standards, coaching young basketball players and health and fitness for Special Olympics athletes. Over 100 coaches from the German Basketball Federation and FIBA Europe ran the FIBA sessions which showcased creative mini-basketball best practices from around the world, with mini-basketball experts sharing their expertise and coaching tips. The seminar also provided an opportunity for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia to showcase the Unified Sports initiative with a local Unified Sports team providing a demonstration to the community of FIBA coaches.

About Fiona Murray:Director, Coaching and Education for Special Olympics
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May 08, 2017 | North America: Florida

Special Olympics changed my life. Here's how it can change yours too!

By Javier Guerrero

Although I have been involved in Special Olympics as a volunteer since my sixth grade year, I first had the opportunity to participate in unified sports in my freshman year.View Story Although I have been involved in Special Olympics as a volunteer since my sixth grade year, I first had the opportunity to participate in unified sports on the Doral Special Olympics Softball team my freshman year. After working with these incredible athletes and competing at the State Summer Games, where we won bronze, I was inspired to try to increase awareness about individuals with intellectual disabilities in my local community. I decided to start a school program at Belen, and this year, we officially founded Belen's first-ever unified sports team, the Belen Jesuit Wolfpack, of which I am proud to serve as its head coach. After qualifying for Special Olympics Florida's State Basketball Games in our first ever season, the Wolfpack won the silver medal in its division, and is now preparing for the State Summer games after placing first in our Area Soccer Games. I encourage you to get involved in Special Olympics Florida as soon as you can, and hopefully, decide to continue working with our remarkable athletes.

About Javier Guerrero:Javier Guerrero is currently a junior at Belen Jesuit in Miami, Florida and is the Unified Champion Schools Chairperson for Miami-Dade County. He is proud to have founded Belen Jesuit's unified sports team, the Belen Jesuit Wolfpack, and serve as its head coach.
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May 08, 2017 | North America: Arizona

Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign Video

By Emily Birecki

Willis Junior High's Best Buddies Program in Chandler, Arizona has been doing an incredible job with their Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.View Story Willis Junior High's Best Buddies Program in Chandler, Arizona has been doing an incredible job with their Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. Best Buddies Club at Willis organized events to create awareness to the campaign. The student body as a whole pledged to stop using the R word. As a teacher over at Willis it is truly inspiring watching the students take matters into their own hands to fight for something so important to them. It is nothing short of remarkable to see the passion, time, and energy that these students put into this campaign. Here is the link to the Youtube video that the students put together to publicly share their campaign. The campaign and video were completely student led. I hope you enjoy as much as I did! :)

About Emily Birecki:Special Education Teacher, Special Olympics Coach, Best Buddies Advisor
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