Piles of clothes, checklists, chocolate bars packed, constant checking of e-mails, then phone calls and texts. My husband Geoff is heading to his first ever Provincial Games as a Head Coach of Soccer. I can tell by the way he is talking, packing and re-checking things that he is excited. I head off to work at Autism NS Friday morning and kiss him goodbye and wish him luck, not sure what the weekend will hold for him.
During lunch, I got a text from said husband, letting me know he was on a school bus, with an interesting choice of emoji attached! I guess he was expecting a large five-star, air-conditioned coach!
Actually, I have had more texts from hubby since he left than I have had in a long time from him! Another clue, that he is slightly excited, as I get texts outlining step by step blows of what each of his teammates are up to, what his room looks like and then the opening ceremony.
I can hear the pride in his voice when he calls me to check that we are ok at home, he shares how proud and exciting it is to be
there, but above all, I can hear the pride in his voice for his team who have worked hard with him this past year. He told us that the team members were asking why assistant coach Isobel (my 16-year-old)wasn’t there as Assistant Coach, to which he assured him, she would be there with us on Saturday when we go along to cheer and see my Active group at the Fun day arranged on campus.
Saturday, we got up and head to Acadia to cheer everyone on. Getting out of the car, every direction I turned, I could hear the loud cheers of excitement. When we got to the field, the players ran over and high fived the three of us, some were so excited they hugged me and swung Isobel and “X” around, (not sure why they didn’t feel they could swing me like that ;)) while apologising that they are super sweaty because “Coach worked them hard”! Hubby strolls across the soccer field, the biggest smile I have seen on his face in a long time.
We sat and cheered the team on, they lost the first game but won the next game, winning or losing that team smiled, high fived each other and anyone watching could see just how thrilled they were to be there as a team, playing a sport they worked hard at learning the skills that took them to Provincials. Hubby got just a little excited, screaming loud and proud, even getting a warning from the ref at one point! I tried to remind him that this was NOT the World Cup, to which he reminded me, it was to him and his team.
In between games, we drove to the other site at Acadia and got there just in time to see some of my Active Start team walk over to the race track. I got to stand at the finish line and watch those children not only run as fast as they could but with huge smiles and arms opened wide, making me realize that they could have the world and beyond if they wanted to! This is the beginning of the Special Olympic journey for them, already a positive experience, already they realize that they are capable of anything that they want to achieve. I watched the parents take photos to capture that moment of pure joy on their child’s face, and then I glanced over to see Tom Fahie smiling from ear to ear. Another Coach who dedicates much of his time to our younger athletes, knowing that the sooner they start the further they can go if they want to while developing amazing skills from early on.
All in all, the day was remarkable and truly a feel-good day, I haven’t heard from Geoff tonight but think that he would already be in his bed dreaming of his team standing at the podium tomorrow getting medals.
Each and every athlete has skills, and often have some obstacles that they overcome to be the very best that they can be, starting early with Active Start and FUNdamentals, gives every child with an Intellectual Disability the very best head start to learning the basic skills so that when they have the choice to go to Provincials they can concentrate on the sport they love, because they would already have the basic fundamental skills.
Now that the weekend is over, the three of us went to meet the bus and cheered-on the athletes as they came home, the soccer team was so excited still and Geoff had lost his voice with the yelling on the pitch, but his smile and face said everything to me. The team won Bronze and he was thrilled, the team was excited not for the medals, but the fact that they had played.
Everyone gets something different from Special Olympics, whether you are a Coach, volunteer, athlete or family member, if you haven’t given it a go yet, why not check out more details on the website?
Jenny Tyler, Mom, Coach and proud Wife.