Special Olympics New Jersey is home to more than 450 Local Training Programs (LTPs) across the 21 counties of the state. In every county most days of the year, athletes and volunteer coaches in these 450+ programs are gathering at practice fields, courts, rinks and gyms to train together.
About 10 years ago, Greenwich, New Jersey had the smallest program in the four counties that make up northeast New Jersey. At the time, there was one coach and one athlete representing the school’s Special Olympics team. The coach left the school and it seemed likely the program would dissolve. Yet, a health and physical education teacher didn’t want to let it end. Scott Gately began incorporating Special Olympics resources into his adapted physical education classes. He committed to reaching out to the community and developing the program’s interest. Soon, the Greenwich program expanded to include athletes and their families in the Belvidere area.
Fast forward to 2018 and the Greenwich LTP now offers training and competition opportunities in bowling, bocce, and track and field, as well as Young Athletes, an inclusive sports play program, for children ages 2 – 7. While Scott continues to strive for further athlete involvement and engagement, he works to develop the confidence of the athletes in the program. Focusing on game-oriented activities during practice helps athletes’ growth and builds on Scott’s coaching mentality and values: teamwork, socialization, and fun.
As a valuable member of the community, Scott has not only earned the loyalty from his athletes and families, but the greater SONJ community is also proud of his efforts. As Young Athletes parent, Renee Smith, shares:
“My son, Colton and I want to let you know that Scott Gately does an amazing job with all of the athletes. My son wakes up on Saturday mornings and the first words out of his mouth are “Coach at the Belvidere School”. Coach Gately fills our Saturdays with a variety of fun, meaningful activities and great social interaction in a kind, safe and caring environment. Scott Gately is a true representative of the Special Olympics mission statement.”
Volunteer Area Director of Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties, Betty Lunn, echoes this sentiment sharing:
“Scott is such a great person, awesome teacher and an asset to our Area 3 program and also to SONJ. I think none of us who volunteer ever look for that pat on the back but because we love Special Olympics and seeing the effect it has on the athletes, I am thrilled to know that he is recognized for his efforts.”
The connection Scott shares with his athletes and their families resonate as one of the many innumerable and everlasting positive influences coaching for SONJ has brought into his life. For his program development, energy, and spirit, SONJ is honored to name Scott Gately as the 2018 Summer Sports Coach of the Season.