Debra Colvin says that there is nothing more rewarding than being involved with Special Olympics, as she marvels at how social SOBC athletes are.
Colvin has been a longtime coach for Special Olympics BC – Burnaby, coaching multiple sports: athletics, curling, Club Fit, and bowling.
In the wealth of her experience in coaching SOBC athletes, she always finds it rewarding to watch them grow and excel in their sports. As she reflects on her decision to join SOBC, there are no regrets; it was the right thing to do.
When did you start with Special Olympics, and how did you get involved?
I started in 1998. My husband and I went to a Special Olympics BC tent at an event in Burnaby. Long story short, we ended up registering our daughter and we've never looked back. It was one of the best things we did for her.
I initially saw myself as a volunteer. We took our daughter to her first program, which was 5-pin bowling, and they sat us down at one of the desks to keep score. It didn't take long before I got caught up in athletics and Club Fit, and then my husband was doing softball.
After the first few years, my husband decided that he wanted our Local to offer curling. We knew nothing about curling and I said, "well you're crazy, we've never curled, and we don't know anything about it!" Anyways, we started up curling in Burnaby and I been involved with it ever since. It’s my love.
What do you love about coaching?
The athletes are so inspirational. No matter who they are, it's just so important to work with them… to get to know them as a human being and just watch them grow as an athlete and excel in sport. There's just something about them and I think you get more back than you give. They're just so enjoyable to be around.
What have you learned from coaching SOBC athletes?
Never underestimate what these athletes can do! It's so incredible watching the progression that they make year after year. In athletics, there are so many events to look after, such as the running and field events. And you would see their personal best improve year after year.
They do it for the love of the sport, but they also love the socializing and the friendships they develop beyond the sport.
What has been your most favorite or memorable experience at SOBC?
I was volunteering at a swim meet. We were doing the ribbons ceremony, and I was fairly new at this point. We were handing out ribbons for up to sixth place, and I distinctively remember the athletes were just over the moon and elated getting their sixth-place ribbon! It was like they won a gold at an Olympic competition. It just resonated with me that they don't have to come in first, but it’s a recognition of being able to compete in a sport and complete it. To give them recognition with a sixth-place ribbon and see their reaction, it just solidified why I was there.
Why should other people get involved with SOBC?
It is so rewarding, it really is. By watching these athletes reach their potential, they're reaching personal achievements through all these positive sporting experiences.
You can volunteer and not know anything about the program, and you will be put to good use. There's so much that you can do by just showing up at a program. I've recruited a lot of volunteers for our Local over the years and a lot of them have stayed for years.