Sunday, June 16, 2024

Silver Valley Special Olympics team looks to grow

Staff Writer | May 17, 2024 1:05 AM

KELLOGG — “I call it the STP: The same 10 people are always volunteering,” Dianna Macklin said. She and members of the Silver Valley Special Olympics team assembled at the Kellogg Middle School track to practice for the track and field events.

Macklin and Corey North are the Silver Valley coaches for the group. Donna Davis coordinates the group. 

This was the last practice before the team competes in Moscow on Saturday with about 100 athletes from the region.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for people with disabilities, but the Special Olympics does that,” Davis said. 

They can struggle to recruit volunteers, in part because it can be intimidating to coach a sport you’ve never done yourself. Fortunately, Special Olympics coaches are given handbooks on how to coach and don’t need to have any experience.

April Cason has competed in professional powerlifting competitions internationally thanks to her background in the sport through the Special Olympics. 

“I went to Greece. It was kind of interesting and really fun,” Cason said.

Devin Webber just joined the team and has taken to the track sprints like a duck to water, his mother, Mandi Webber said.

“It’s really giving him that outlet. Devin is very high-energy and it just feeds his soul,” she said, adding that she wants to get more involved.

North got involved to make sure his son, Connor North, had more opportunities and had a family member involved in the county’s program. Now he coaches track and bocce ball for the team.

“There’s nothing better than watching them succeed at something. I want to brag about our athletes because they’re awesome,” North said.

More athletes with disabilities could be taking advantage of the resources and experiences Special Olympics provides, North said, but family members are needed to be there for practices in case there’s a medical issue.

“It’s sad we don’t have a bigger team. If you don’t try it, you don’t get the benefits for it,” North said.

One of the most important things for Macklin is to get people to try new things. Joanne Coast was not comfortable swimming when she started and shared that she used to wear some floatation support when they were working on laps at the pool, but now she has witnessed a change in her abilities as she’s gotten stronger at swimming. 

“She’s getting better at it,” Cason said.

At the practices twice a week, North said, people don’t realize the joy volunteering with the Special Olympics. He’s coached student athletes before, and he said it’s unlike anything else.

“It’s a good feeling watching progress with my athletes,” North said.

    Devin Webber sprints along the track at Kellogg Middle School during practice for the Silver Valley Special Olympics team.
    Kristin Payne, Justin Argiro and Connor North sprint during practice for the Silver Valley Special Olympics team Wednesday.