By Rose Gonzales
Just as we go for the gold in Special Olympics, we also strive to become healthier athletes!
Recently, before our state-level soccer competition, our Gompers Gators had the opportunity to participate in Strive. Formerly known as Healthy Athletes, this initiative offered through Special Olympics helps teach our athletes how to be healthier and stronger by offering information on nutrition and hydration along with a series of flexibility activities to practice before competing on the field.
We had athletes doing squats, planks, sit-ups, sprints, ball tosses, long jumps and other activities with trainers observing their technique and helping them do the activities in the safest and most effective ways possible. Ray was timed for squats and was especially pleased with his progress:
“I did 15 squats in 30 seconds!” he said. “I felt it in my muscles.”
After everyone was limber and ready to go, we competed. The difference between our practices in the gym and playing in competition is intense; these athletes gave it their all. We tied it five times in the end, so our goalies had to face off — and we lost by one point.
But, with the attitudes our Gators displayed, it was like they walked away with first place. Our team displayed excellent sportsmanship as they congratulated the other team with smiles on their faces. They played their hearts out and, as their coach, I couldn’t be any happier. Go, Gators!
Rose Gonzales is a habilitation technician in Gompers’ Day Training for Adults Program and the proud coach of the Gompers Gators.