September 18-26 marks National Coaches Week and at Special Olympics Alberta our coaches continue to make a difference for the movement on-and-off the field.
From taking on virtual programming to mentoring other volunteers, our coaches continue to go above and beyond for athletes across the province.
Brittany Gadzosa is one of those coaches.
At just 16-years-old, she began her coaching journey at the pool as a competitive swim coach.
After taking a few years off to pursue her master’s degree, the itch returned and her passion for coaching led her to Special Olympics.
It has been all hands-on deck ever since.
“I plan to coach with Special Olympics for as long I as can,” said Brittany. “I plan to further develop my coaching abilities by taking additional certifications. This way I can continue to be the best coach possible, but also, so I can mentor new coaches.”
Brittany has volunteered with the Calgary affiliate for the past six years, acting as the Head Coach of the Advanced Swim Group.
In 2020, she also had the opportunity to manage the alpine ski team at Nationals as a member of the infamous Wolfpack.
Dedication, motivation, and inspiration are three terms that describe her impact as a coach at the grassroots level, and for Brittany, her next goal is coaching swimming at a National Games.
One of my favourite memories as a coach was attending the National Summer Games 2018 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. This was the first National Games I had attended, and I was blown away by the community spirit between the athletes and coaches of different provinces. Everyone, regardless of where they came from, cheered and supported every athlete as if they were on their own team. To me, this is the meaning of true sportsmanship and is one of the reasons I love coaching with Special Olympics.
While Brittany has certainly made an impact throughout her tenure at the pool, for the past 18 months our sports programming has shifted to virtual due to the pandemic.
Despite these changes, Brittany’s involvement has been unwavering – offering support through virtual practices with her swim team and leading workouts with the PEAK Program.
One of the main projects she spearheaded within PEAK was creating resistance band videos to show proper techniques for athletes looking to stay active and healthy at home.
“For me, the most rewarding thing about being involved in the PEAK program is seeing athletes from different sports and from all around the province come together to support each other as they reach their goals,” said Brittany. “It has been amazing to witness the comradery that has formed even though many of the athletes have never met in person.”
National Coaches Week is a time to say #ThanksCoach to individuals like Brittany who continue to for our athletes.
When asked what she would say to aspiring coaches looking to get involved, Brittany offered this advice:
“Take the plunge - it is a decision you will not regret! Do not worry if you do not have specific coaching experience; the most important things that you need to have to be a great coach is to have an open mind and to care about the athletes.”
Thank you to Brittany and the hundreds of Special Olympics Alberta coaches who are making a difference for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Join us in saying #ThanksCoach online throughout the week by sharing your favourite memories, using the hashtag, and tagging @SpecialOAlberta.