Summertime In The Sunshine


Margie Steve


Summertime In The Sunshine

By: Margie Steve

During the summer and throughout this past school year I have gone and seen my two siblings play all kinds of sports. After watching them, their teammates play together and the relationship between them and the coaches, I knew I had to write an article about this. Many people ranging from kids to adults had a blast playing all kinds of sports and activities. Not only do they get to have fun, but they also get to build new friendships with coaches, peers, and learn from each other. So, what is this and who is behind this? It’s called Special Olympics and Alyssa Coln is the local coordinator and she is the reason why we have this, but it takes more to make it a success.

Alyssa Coln is in charge of organizing and setting up any Special Olympics Brunswick County events. In order to offer new sports all year long, she seeks to find athletes, coaches, and volunteers. Additionally, she had organized a Spring Games Tournament in which approximately 400 athletes from Brunswick County generally compete. While planning all the events and activities, she is also in charge of getting teams ready for competitions, and fostering goodwill among various organizations.

You may be wondering what is Special Olympics and who is eligible to participate? Special Olympics are for kids and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics works to provide year-round sport instruction and physical competition in a number of sports. Athletes in Special Olympics competitions must be at least eight years old; they also offer Young Athletes programs for kids between the ages of 2 and 7. To be qualified to compete, athletes must submit paperwork that includes a sport physical every three years. The cost of the athlete taking part in Special Olympics is nothing. Sounds like a win win for everyone, so why not sign up someone who is eligible or volunteer and say “game on!”

A few people were interviewed and were asked what makes Special Olympics special? Alyssa Coln said “the way the athletes encourage each other at practices and competition is unlike anything I have witnessed before. The athletes really take the time to lift each other up, win or lose.” Tina, one of the parents of an athlete, said her son has been a part of Special Olympics for 8 years now and throughout those years he has grown from his independence, social skills, and teamwork skills. Tina also says she enjoys the coaches because they are very considerate, kind, and patient. Special Olympics allows people who wouldn’t be able to participate in sports, be able to and learn new skills said Tina as well and agreed by many others.  Freddy, a volunteer coach for Special Olympics, said you get a sense of being needed and appreciated, Special Olympics is an inclusion of all sports.

As Brunswick County continues to be one of the fastest growing counties in NC stated by Alyssa, one of her goals is to see the program grow as well. Special Olympics would love to recruit more head coaches so that we can offer even more sport options to the athletes in Brunswick County. Alyssa also stated that it would be significant if more school-aged kids participate in Special Olympics Brunswick County activities outside of the classroom.

It has been a pleasure to be able to watch and participate in Special Olympics throughout the summer and see such great positivity going on. As a teen myself, I realized the importance of volunteering with not just the community, but also getting to know the people in the community. There are so many great programs and organizations here in Brunswick County and I hope to see more teens, volunteers, and athletes participate in this program.

Take a sneak peek at some of the sports offered, note: some sports just take place in the fall or spring (not year-round): Equestrian, Bocce, Soccer, Bowling, Softball, Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis, and Pickleball. For more information on Special Olympics, volunteering, or becoming an athlete, you can contact Alyssa Coln at 910-253-2679 or one of the following emails: [email protected] or [email protected]. Make sure to like and follow them on Facebook to keep up with these awesome athletes, coaches, and events at Special Olympics Brunswick County.