WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - The North West Texas Area Special Olympics basketball certified coaches and volunteers on Thursday at the Bridge in Wichita Falls.
Many of the coaches and volunteers got involved through family connections but they said that once you get involved you never want to stop.
“I started twenty-something years ago with a cousin that was in the Special Olympics," Nathan Bardin said. “Went to the military and then I have two kids that are also in the Special Olympics now.”
Teams have already begun practicing for the big competition that will take place on February 22 in Graham with hundreds of players involved.
“We are actually offering a new component which we will form unified individual skills so those with or without intellectual disabilities can play and do the skills together,” Strickland said.
Strickland, who was once a coach and special ed teacher, said this experience is unlike any other.
“You go into as coaches and volunteers thinking that we can give back and we gain so much more than we receive and its pretty amazing,” Strickland said.
Some of the things that they’re learning include being open-minded and patient with these student-athletes.
“You learn their strength their weakness how to push them beyond what they think they can do." Bardin said.“A lot of our athletes can’t compete with the other athletes but with special Olympics, they can.”
Another lifer who plans to attend tonight to get re-certified says family brought her to it but the kids keep her in it.
“Being able to coach the Special Olympics is a lot of fun. To see them doing something they thought they couldn’t do and even excel in something they already knew they could and seeing them come together and have a good time," Coach Jordan Darnell said. "Yes, they are all like I want to win but at the same time they root for each other no matter what and it’s just great to see that.”
Here is a list of future events:
Polar Plunge – (February 1 ) @ Boomtown Bay Aquatics Center
Basketball Competition – (February 22 ) @ Graham High School
Equestrian Competition – (April 4 ) @ Whispers of Hope Wichita Falls
Spring Games (Track and Field) - (April 18 ) @ Iowa Park High School
Strickland said that if they get enough interest, they will hold another training session for coaches.
For more information you can visit their Facebook page.