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  • Writer's picturelondonmiddlebury

From Athlete to Coach

Mary Lafountain is an athlete with the Special Olympics Vermont Addison County program and has been competing for more than twenty years.  She plays many sports but is primarily a long distance runner. When we sat down to talk with Mary she had just completed the Maple Run in Middlebury where she ran 6 miles as part of a relay team.

In addition to training and competing with Special Olympics Vermont, Mary volunteers as a coach with a new Young Athletes program through the Middlebury Parks and Recreation Department. Special Olympics Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities ages 2-7. The program is designed to build motor skills, balance, strength, and social skills in preparation for competing with Special Olympics once children become eligible at age eight.

We spoke with Mary inside the brand new Middlebury Parks and Rec. facility before a weekly Young Athletes session.

Is this your first time coaching a Young Athletes program? I did it before, a long time ago. What’s your favorite part about coaching? I like being around kids who have disabilities. They are really nice kids and I like watching them grow up. The kids are learning different things and having fun. I like the balance beam and the parachute. We do it all together. What do you teach these young athletes? I like teaching them stretches. We do touch your toes, stretches for your arms, running in place, working in partners. Sometimes a kid will have trouble and I try to help them get back into the group and feel included. Do you see yourself as a role model? Yes. I’m a great person to be around and I show great leadership. So it’s cool for young athletes to see a grown up athlete. I can teach kids to be kind. What would you tell someone who is looking to get involved with Special Olympics? Come volunteer at our events and get involved!

The upcoming Young Athletes program at the Middlebury Recreation Facility will take place on Sunday mornings from 10-11am from September 18 – October 23. Coach Mary will be there! For more information about the Young Athletes program and for upcoming locations, please visit the Young Athletes page.

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