In 2013, Brenda Mongelli volunteered as a chaperone for the Special Olympics New Jersey Passaic County track meet. The excitement of the event and the enthusiasm of the athletes sparked her interest to get more involved.
After a year of finalizing details and gaining support, she became the coach of her own program. Brenda has shown up in countless ways for her athletes and that’s why she is our 2018 Spring Sports Coach of the Season.
From the beginning of coaching experience, Brenda was intent on involving her athletes in the decision-making process of the team. Athlete input led the team to start bowling, as the players enjoyed both the competitiveness and social aspect of the sport. She utilizes athletes in the selection of their shirt design each season. Brenda aims to help her team feel confident in their presentation and performance. Involving the athletes in the team management aspect of being a coach allows her to connect to the athletes and build stronger relationships with each member.
Brenda strives to motivate her athletes and make practices engaging, meaningful and convenient to maximize everyone’s time together. Believing that coaching is truly what you make of it, Brenda places emphasis on spending as much time as possible with her team.
Her assistant coach Kim Mickus notes the attention Brenda gives each athlete to ensure that they not only enjoy practice, but that they understand the sport and learn the principles of the game. Kim recalls that:
“Last year [she] went above and beyond by having the practices on a Saturday. She would make fliers for the guys and teach them stretching exercises all while incorporating music and dancing into her teaching method to make it fun and enjoyable.” Kim adds, “Brenda is committed to putting the team together and making sure that individual needs and wants are met not only for Special Olympics but in their everyday lives.”
Brenda builds on her desire to make time with her team valuable by taking advantage of opportunities within SONJ coach education. Last fall, she traveled over three hours to attend one of the bowling clinics. Although clinics are not required, Brenda placed high value in attending to learn more about ramp bowling, rules, practice management, competition strategies and hands on participation. This kind of dedication sets the precedent for other coaches. Brenda’s dedication to being a great coach by growing her team continues to earn her high praise from the Special Olympics community.
For her commitment, enthusiasm and athlete engagement, we are honored to name Brenda Mongelli the 2018 Spring Sports Coach of the Season.