It is National Coaches Week and we want to celebrate grassroots coaches making a difference in the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities across the province.
In 1993, Debbie Rice was part of a precision skating team in Calgary competing in the annual Rose Bowl.
During the intermission, a group of Special Olympics skaters took to the ice to perform a routine.
At that moment, Debbie knew Special Olympics was something that she needed to get involved with.
“It enriches my life to give time in support of the Special Olympics organization and the athletes,” says Debbie. “Spending time with both the athletes and coaches, building relationships, watching their achievements and everybody having fun – there is nothing better than that!”
Debbie started her coaching tenure, but took a break after the birth of her daughter. In 2015, she rejoined as a coach and volunteer with bocce, floor hockey, and 5-pin bowling.
A typical practice with Debbie is filled with energy with and the excitement from the athletes is contagious.
She is sure to recognize each athlete for all of their achievements from their first strike or goal all the way to earning a medal on the podium.
Debbie is encouraging athletes to stay connected, active, informed, and positive by sharing the tools available online during this time.
“Take advantage of the fitness tools and online group chats, dance parties and virtual competitions provided by the various Special Olympics affiliates,” says Debbie “This is a great way to stay connected to your friends –and what a great way to meet new people from across Canada.”
Every week is National Coaches Week when you get to celebrate inspiring Special Olympics coaches who are there for our athletes.
The annual campaign is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by taking the time to say #ThanksCoach.
Debbie is a coach who is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that each and every athlete she coaches is having a great experience.
She coaches, participates in events, organizes movie nights, and is available to help in any way possible, and is more than worthy of being recognized for her efforts.
“Thank you for the recognition - to be selected in a field where there are so many hard working and dedicated coaches is an honour. To the coaches and the athletes for making my volunteer experience so enjoyable – thank you for letting me a part of your Special Olympics circle.” – Debbie Rice
Looking ahead, Debbie’s goal is to coach at Nationals and experience the excitement and camaraderie of Team Alberta. But in the immediate future, her goals include assisting the athletes in reaching their potential.
For coaches looking to get involved Debbie stated that “the pride and joy you will experience compares to no other volunteer experience.”
Her passion is evident and has spread to her family members, including her daughter Lauren who is now the Head Coach of the powerlifting program in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows with Special Olympics B.C.
Thank you to Debbie and the 650+ grassroots coaches across the province who continue to make a difference in the lives of our athletes.
Please join us throughout the week as we say thank you by sharing stories from some of these amazing coaches.
Share the hashtag #ThanksCoach and tag @SpecialOAlberta with a message to your coach to let them know how important they are!