When George Coffey enrolled his son, James in their local Special Olympics Massachusetts chapter about 15-years ago, he knew the organization would help change his son’s life physically and mentally via sports. However, Coffey had no idea the dramatic and positive impact Special Olympics would have on his own life.
Although James plays soccer, floor hockey and runs track, he has a particular passion for softball. One Saturday morning at softball practice in Brockton nearly six years ago, Coffey volunteered to help coach; that was all it took and after only one day, he was hooked. Coaching the softball athletes was an huge amount of fun for Coffey and he also enjoyed helping he athletes achieve their goals.
Eventually, Coffey along with Cindy and Ed Lavigne and Jill Damon developed a softball program with Whitman Hanson. Coffey is the head coach and Cindy is the program director as well as the assistant coach; a responsibility she shares with Ed and Jill. Whitman Hanson also offers track & field, soccer and floor hockey. Although the Whitman Hanson program has been around for only three-years, they have definitely made a significant impact in Massachusetts with their success.
Recently the chapter sent the Whitman Hanson Area Panthers softball team to the 2011 Special Olympics National Invitational Softball Tournament in Elgin, Illinois. The athletes competed against 28 teams from 16 states and Canada on August 27-28th and won a bronze medal. The athletes were thrilled with their success and discovered a huge amount of inner strength as they played against other incredible teams.
Way to go Panthers!