May 8th, 2023
Volunteers Share Why They Love to Coach at 2023 Special Olympics Tennis State Games
The 2023 Florida Special Olympics State Games for tennis were hosted at the USTA National Campus on May 5 and May 6. It was another successful event, with over 200 athletes coming out to enjoy the game we love. Behind the players are volunteer coaches, who have dedicated countless hours to helping better these athletes both on and off the court.
USTA Florida had a chance to catch up with some of these coaches at the event, and many of them shared the same passion of wanting to put a smile on the athletes’ faces.
Sally Hale, a coach in Osceola County loves to take part in the Special Olympics and work with these athletes. “Watching the kids go from barely understanding to becoming a team, playing together, and exceling is special,” she said.
Sally first started coaching because the Osceola coach at the time had moved away, so no one was in that position anymore. “No coach, no competition,” she said. Sally knew that if no one volunteered to take that role, then these athletes wouldn’t get the chance to play in the Special Olympics and enjoy tennis like she has throughout her life.
Another coach, JC Schecter, volunteers his time in Collier County because of his brother, who competed over the weekend. “Getting to see these athletes displaying their ability instead of their disability is amazing,” he said.
One coach from Lake County also got involved because of her child, “My daughter is an athlete,” she said, “But I wouldn’t give this up if she wasn’t competing.” She adores seeing the progression that the athletes make over time. “I love watching them develop as players and human beings,” she said. “That’s why this program is so wonderful. Everyone gets a chance to play like everyone else in the world and develop at their own rate.”
All of the volunteers out there with these athletes wanted to see them reach their highest potential, and while winning isn’t everything, putting a smile on their faces while they chase down a ball, or score a point, is one of the biggest joys anyone can experience.
If you want to get involved not just in tennis but with the Special Olympics, take advice from people that were out there this year. “Reach out to your local county center and learn how to get involved, they are always looking for volunteers in Special Olympics,” said JC Schecter.
For more information, you can visit ustaflorida.com/volunteer and see when the next event is in your community.