Special Olympics is looking for a few good volunteers who care to work with special needs children. Jim Soltz, the area director, said they are looking for coaches of all ages from teens on up. “No one really gets turned down here. We will put everyone to work,” Soltz said.
The organization hopes to find people who have a willingness to help and show others how to play a sport. “We are looking for folks who have patience and will encourage our athletes. They don’t have to be an expert in the sport as Special Olympics has developed sporting guides for each sport that suggest methods to help our athletes learn the skills sets necessary for each sport,” Soltz explained. “Many times just by providing positive feedback and being a friend who cheers them on as they learn is often the most rewarding part of coaching in Special Olympics.”
Soltz said they are always looking for volunteer coaches. “We try to have one coach for every four athletes but more is better,” he said. This upcoming fall Special Olympics could use help in bowling at the Nugget Bowling Center on Mondays 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Golf will be at Mountain Falls Golf Course on Thursdays and soccer will be at Ian Deutch Memorial Park, field #4 on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Soccer is a new sport that was added this year. The AYSO organization helped Special Olympics with the field.
Bruce Cox, head Special Olympics basketball coach, said he has been coaching for seven years and has loved every minute of it. “I played basketball in high school and again when I was in the army. I just love sharing the game with others and love giving back to the community. The most rewarding part about coaching these kids is just seeing their smiles, when they play. The kids just work so hard,” he said. The time commitment varies with the sport, but he said for basketball is about two hours.
“In basketball we can definitely use more coaches. We have two levels, a higher level team and a skills level team. In the lower level, the athletes learn individual skills,” Cox explained.
Basketball starts in January and they have practices at the Ninth Grade Academy Gym at Pahrump Valley High School on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. In basketball, he said he has anywhere from 10 to 15 athletes. “The way basketball works is we don’t have games, we practice for a tournament in Las Vegas in March,” he said. “I am looking for minimal experience for the coaches. I can teach them everything they need to know,” Cox said.
Soltz said the best way to get involved as a coach or athlete, is just to join us at one of the practices, “We invite everyone to visit one of our practices and be a proud supporter of Special Olympics and cheer our athletes on,” he said.
All volunteer coaches go through a background check and complete an online general orientation.
Soltz says he has taken away many life lessons from coaching Special Olympics. “There are those special moments when I know our athletes are coaching me in the real lessons of life and I understand what a blessing they are,” Soltz remarked. “To them the Athletes Oath, ‘Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt,’ is more than words. It’s a way of life. Maybe we should all apply this philosophy when life doesn’t go our way. I’m thinking that I’m speaking for all our volunteer coaches, when I say once you’re involved in Special Olympics your life will never be the same. There are times when I watch the athletes overcome the challenges of life with such a can-do attitude. Even when they don’t win they smile at me and say, ‘I’ll win next time coach.’”