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


May 21, 2015 | Asia Pacific: Bharat (India)

Special Olympics Bharat Runners Take Part in World 10K Run

By S.RAVINDRA KUMAR

Special Olympics Bharat athletes Ankush Saha and Santosh Kumar with bib no 609 and 1644 respectively participated in theTCS World10k Run Bengaluru on 15 May 2015.View Story Special Olympics Bharat athletes Ankush Saha and Santosh Kumar with bib no 609 and 1644 respectively participated in theTCS World10k Run Bengaluru on 15 May 2015 and finished 160th out of 7772 with a timing of 44.32 min and 647th out of 7772 with a timing of 51.34 min. Ankush is participating for the second year and Santosh Kumar is participating for the ninth year in a row in the open 10k event where other Special Olympics athletes participated in the Champions with Disability category. The courage and skill displayed by our special athletes in the event is laudable.

About S.RAVINDRA KUMAR:i am father as well as coach of Santosh Kumar. i am also national trainer special olympics bharat i am employed in indian railways as cheif reservation supervisor coaching is my hobby last year 8 athletes of bangalore participated in 10k run including a female athlete.i sincerely beleive given oppurtunities the can compete with anybody avenues for competition in long distance running should be explored to give meaningful competition experience for these athletes.
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May 12, 2015 | North America: New York

Deciding to Coach

By Kyndra Benoit

I work at an ARC home and started a small basketball game for a few of the houses before I found out about special olympics in our area. I got a few of the guys from my house interested and one of the women just went to watch.View Story I work at an ARC home and started a small basketball game for a few of the houses before I found out about Special Olympics in our area. I got a few of the guys from my house interested and one of the women just went to watch. She enjoyed it so much she began playing as well. I was asked to help out since I went every week and I had not played basketball in about 6 years due to medical reasons. I eventually went through the coaches trained and became certified. I absolutely love doing and the guys on my team are so inspiring. I have decided to help out in other sports because working for such a great organization is the most fun thing I can do. I look forward to it every week and am disappointed that it is only once a week. Knowing what it is like to be limited, as I am medically, it is such a great feeling being involved in this.

About Kyndra Benoit:I am a coach for basketball currently. I work at a residential house for Ulster-Greene ARC. I used to play basketball for high school and a little in college before I got sick with an abnormal case of arthritis. I have not been able to play for about 6 years. I am just now being able to play and have been with the Ulster Tigers this season.
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May 11, 2015 | North America: Jamaica

Jamaica's Maroons head for 2nd Canada Cup Tournament

By Victor L Brown SOJ Floorball Coordinator

The Special Olympics Jamaica Maroons will play in a floorball tournament in Canada. It will take place May 15th to 19th in Toronto. The organizers are expecting the usual representation from Europe, the US, and naturally teams from across Canada.View Story The Special Olympics Jamaica Maroons will play in a floorball tournament in Canada. It will take place May 15th to 19th in Toronto at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens). The organizers are expecting the usual representation from Europe, the US, and naturally teams from across Canada. Special Olympics Jamaica is the only squad attending from the Special Olympics North America Region. “Competing in this year’s event is the culmination of a great amount of effort. We’ve been working for a year on the observations from last year’s event and I feel that we can do better this time” said floorball coordinator Victor Brown. The delegation consists of the following athletes: Oshain Daley (goalkeeper), Orion McCaw (Vice-Captain), Sydney Manyan (Captain), Rocky Lindsey, Nigel Davis. Our partners were: Christopher Palmer, Ricardo Frater, Rosene Hewitt, Orseano Benjamin, O’Shain Rhooms, Damion Barrett, David Bromfield, Senior athlete Richard Oates will again attend the referee clinic. He will be joined by Valerie Murphy our Institute of Sport representative (charged with promoting Floorball across the island). They may even get some court time. Dario Müller will assist me with the bench responsibilities. The management off-court activities will be handled by Kimberly Thompson and Rodney Jule. “We’ve come a long way since last year. This a new group of teammates with a different attitude. I’m looking forward to exhibiting what we’ve learnt from the visit of the European players. If we play as best we can’ we’ll do well, ” said Sydney Manyan Team Captain.

About Victor L Brown SOJ Floorball Coordinator:I have been working with Special Olympics Jamaica for 16 years.
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April 06, 2015 | North America: Jamaica

Die Mobiliar support Jamaica's Maroons with court uniforms

By Victor L. Brown

Dario Müller presented Special Olympics Jamaica Maroons Unified Floorball Club with a donation of two sets of court uniforms from Swiss based Die Mobiliar Indoor Sports at the final training session with the visiting European Floorball players on March 18th.View Story Dario Müller presented Special Olympics Jamaica Maroons Unified Floorball Club with a donation of two sets of court uniforms from Swiss based Die Mobiliar Indoor Sports at the final training session with the visiting European Floorball players on March 18th. “The resources were part of the Jamaica Floorball Association sponsored Bilingual Exchange Programme providing language and Floorball training in schools. Over the six (6) months that they were here, the Maroons benefited from their expertise at our weekly training sessions. Both athletes and coaches have learnt a lot from their interaction through drills and friendly matches. In addition to this wonderful gift of court uniforms for which we are grateful we also received a manual with all the drills that were shown to us” The Maroons are preparing for the 2015 Canada Cup in Toronto May 15 to 19.

About Victor L. Brown:have been working with SOJ since 1996
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April 01, 2015 | North America: Michigan

Three Generations Make Coaching a Family Tradition

By Jaclyn Heikkinen

Bill Dombrowski (bottom right) and granddaughter Madison (top right) coach the Grand Rapids Central Buffaloes.

Bill Dombrowski started coaching the Grand Rapids Central Buffaloes more than 40 years ago. Through the years he has coached around a couple hundred basketball athletes, and created a family tradition of coaching that is now three generations strong.View Story Bill Dombrowski started coaching the Grand Rapids Central Buffaloes more than 40 years ago. Through the years he has coached around a couple hundred basketball athletes, and created a family tradition of coaching that is now three generations strong. Bill had help coaching from his son, 40-year-old Michael Dombrowski, and now his granddaughter 14-year-old Madison Dombrowski is coaching alongside him. "Family has always been a very important part of coaching," said Bill. "We love it and it's always been an important part of our life." Madison started by going to practices before she actually became a coach. "I loved being around them, they were so happy all the time and it made me smile," said Madison. "I loved being there." Watching the athletes improve is the most rewarding part of being a coach to Madison. "Some of them came and they didn't know a single thing about basketball and they've improved so much since then, now they're scoring baskets and being tough."

About Jaclyn Heikkinen:Jaclyn Heikkinen is a public relations and marketing intern at Special Olympics Michigan.
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March 29, 2015 | North America: Maryland

Never Say The R-Word

By Brianna Nelson

I have a horse rider that i teach her name is gabbi and shes is beautiful! as she says!!View Story I have a horse rider that i teach her name is gabbi and shes is beautiful! as she says!!

About Brianna Nelson:i am a Great person and never will ever say that word
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March 11, 2015 | North America: Florida

Gulf Breeze High Girls Lacrosse Hosts end the R word at Best Buddies Night

By Laura Pattison

The Gulf Breeze Girls Lacrosse team is trying to Spread the word about ending the R word! At the local high school lacrosse game this week they are hosting the Best Buddies Night.View Story The Gulf Breeze Girls Lacrosse team is trying to Spread the word about ending the R word! At the local high school lacrosse game this week they are hosting the Best Buddies Night for any local chapters to attend and ask people to help end the use of this word! Come see a great game but most importantly let us all remember our words can hurt others. Game Time: Wednesday March 11th at GBHS Dolphin Stadium 6 pm.

About Laura Pattison:Head Lacrosse Coach and ESE aide and Best Buddies supporter
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