Ahead of the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2024, Special Olympics PEI is thrilled to have 2 Apprentice Coaches through the Special Olympics Canada NextGen Coaching Apprenticeship Program: Mel Demy, Floor Hockey and Lynda Hontscharowicz, 5-Pin Bowling.
Speaking about the Special Olympics Canada NextGen Coaching Apprenticeship Program, Matthew McNally, Team PEI's Chef de Mission said, "Special Olympics PEI is extremely excited that two members are able to benefit from this new coach development initiative. It will further strengthen our volunteer opportunities for individuals to collaborate with experienced coaches in the sport and for our future leaders to develop with others across Canada in a supportive environment."
Meet Team PEI's Apprentice Coaches
Mel has been a volunteer with Special Olympics PEI since she moved back to PEI in the Fall of 2018. She was looking for ways to get involved with the community, and had Special Olympics in the back of her mind from previously working at a day program for people with an intellectual disability in Ontario. She looked into local programs here, and found the Summerside Floor Hockey program. Four years later, and Mel couldn't imagine not being involved! She says it's the athletes who keep her coming back. Coaching is a creative outlet, and reminds her of her time playing high level sports. Mel is very aware that Special Olympics programs are often the highlight of their week for many athletes, and tries to match that positive spirit and energy when she walks into program each week.
When asked about her favourite Special Olympics moment, Mel said, "one that really sticks out to me is the 2019 New Brunswick Provincial Games in Miramichi. This was the first time I travelled with Team PEI; and I was just astonished at the spirit, electric energy and positivity at the Games. All of the athletes were so supportive of one another, and not just between Team PEI athletes, but between the NB teams as well. Seeing the athletes so happy and having such a good time at this tournament was priceless and is an experience I will never forget."
Looking ahead to the 2024 Special Olympics Canada National Games, Mel is very excited to watch the athletes grow as a team as they work together and train over the next year. She adds "I am honoured to have been picked as an apprentice coach for floor hockey and look forward to learning from the best. I cannot wait to be in Calgary at the Games watching the athletes enjoy every moment." This will be Mel's first National Games experience.
Lynda has been a volunteer with Special Olympics PEI for 13 years. She first got involved with Special Olympics to get her brother, Team PEI Cross Country Ski athlete, Tommy Ling, into programs. Lynda loved meeting the athletes, and wanted to help the organization more, so she started volunteers for more events.
In addition to volunteering with her local 5-Pin Bowling program, Lynda also volunteers with Bocce and Athletics. Off the fields of play, Lynda is always quick to volunteer at fundraising events, including the LETR Polar Plunge. In 2022 Lynda joined Special Olympics PEI's Board of Directors and currently serves as a Member at Large.
When asked about her favourite Special Olympics moment, Lynda said, "I have a few but the one that stands out the most is at the Provincial Bowling Tournament. The excitement, expectation and anticipation the athletes have waiting for the ceremony to start. Who is going to win, are they going to get a medal. No matter if they win or not, the athletes cheer for the next winner with so much enthusiasm."
Lynda has previously supported Team PEI in a leadership role at two National Games. Lynda was Team PEI's Team Manager at the 2018 National Bowling Championships. In 2020, Lynda was a member of the Team PEI Mission Staff at the Special Olympics Canada National Games in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Looking ahead to the 2024 Special Olympics Canada National Games, Lynda is excited to cheer on Team PEI athlete to achieve their best!
About the Special Olympics Canada NextGen Coaching Apprenticeship Program
Special Olympics Canada and its Provincial / Territorial Chapters strongly believe in a coach education model that develops and empowers Special Olympics coaches at all levels of competition. Numerous programs in the sport community have demonstrated that apprenticeship programs are essential in the development, recruitment and retention of coaches, particularly those in underrepresented groups. In a new opportunity from Special Olympics Canada, the NextGen Coaching Apprentice Program will allocated Chapters up to two additional coaching quote spots for identified NextGen coaches to develop their coaching skills through Provincial / Territorial and National Games.
Learn more about Team PEI 2024
In February / March of 2024, Special Olympics PEI will be represented by 33 athletes, supported by 21 coaches and mission staff, at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2024 in Calgary, Alberta. Team PEI will compete in 7 sports: 5-Pin Bowling, Cross Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Floor Hockey, Snowshoeing, and Speed Skating. Be sure to follow along between now and February as we continue to Meet Team PEI 2024!
Supporters of Special Olympics PEI are invited to follow Team PEI 2024, both in the lead-up to, and during the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2024! Our Team PEI 2024's website will be updated with schedules and results during the Games, and our social media channels - Facebook and Instagram, will have photos and up to the minute news and highlights.
SUPPORT TEAM PEI
If you would like to support Team PEI 2024 as they training to represent PEI at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2024, please consider either Drafting an Athlete or donating to the Team PEI Booster Club.