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Bobbi Roberts named statewide Outstanding Coach, others honored


All of the coaches below were recognized for their outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Missouri from their respective areas at the SOMO Annual Awards Luncheon Jan. 16 in Branson. Each year, Special Olympics Missouri salutes those who have made significant contributions to the Special Olympics movement. Each area nominee is submitted for statewide recognition, and the overall winners were also announced at the SOMO Leadership Summit.

Robin Roberts has been a coach with Jackson County Parks & Recreation for more than 20 years. She coaches flag football, basketball and softball and is a Unified Partner in bowling. Robin started out helping with the JCPR teams, but it wasn’t long before she had her own teams within JCPR. She is a wonderful motivator for her athletes and works hard to keep them focused so they excel in their sports. Robin is also an active member of the Miles for Medals planning committee. This annual fundraiser goes to support agencies/fan clubs to provide uniforms, equipment and SGAs for the teams. This committee works hard to recruit riders, find sponsors and donors to help this event grow every year. Robin wants to see her athletes grow and develop in sports competition and everyday life. She has assisted athletes with job searches, roommate conflicts and other day-to-day problems. She is an asset to not only her athletes but the whole JCPR team!

Central Area is honored to nominate a husband and wife coaching team: Joe and Joyce Boss. These two individuals have done all they can to enhance the Jefferson City Parks and Rec program. Since these two have taken the helm of the program, there has been the introduction of new sports such as volleyball, flag football and more recently, powerlifting. Joe and Joyce do not have any children in the program, but have a love for the athletes as if they were their own. Not only do they coach, they also oversee the Friday Night Rec program for the city as well. They bring athletes to the annual Sports Camp in the summer and stay on to serve as group leaders. Joe and Joyce have even organized camping trips and Cardinals baseball game outings so that athletes get the chance to have other experiences as well. Fundraising is also a part of their lives in assisting with a concession stand for a summer boat race down the Missouri River, as well as, serving as host/hostess with the athletes at the Over the Edge event in Jefferson City. They also like to join in from time to time by serving as Unified Partners. And they think of other athletes from other groups by offering them they chance to have scrimmages and local games to further competition opportunities. We have not seen two people, who do not have children in the program, work as hard for their athletes as Joe and Joyce do for theirs.

Two years ago, Emily Sorensen stepped into the lead position in organizing and coaching Special Olympics athletes in the Kirksville area. She had to step into some very big shoes as Jaime Janes had built a strong program in the area. Since that time, Emily has continued to grow this program, nurture and advocate for athletes and Unified Partners, expand coach involvement and promote positive relationships with athletes, parents and community. Emily is now working with interested parties to build a program for adult athletes in the area. She is growing and expanding a solid program in Kirksville – her genuine kindness, clear thinking and absolute fairness merge with professional skills that build our athletes’ confidence, skill set (from language development, personal growth and educational goals) and opportunities. As the speech pathologist for some of the athletes, Emily has a gracious professionalism that impacts those she works with. She challenges her athletes in a positive way and allows them to experience new opportunities and spread their wings while holding them to a higher standard. Now that she leads the program, it’s reassuring to know she always has the best interest of the athletes (personally, athletically and educationally) in mind!

As a physical therapist with the St. Louis Public School system, Rosalie saw early in her career the physical and social benefits of Special Olympics Missouri and has been pushing ever since to make participation a priority for her students. Rosalie has really devoted a huge portion of her life to her students and their therapy, fighting limited budgets, limited time and resources and often administrative and parental resistance to give her students as many opportunities as possible. As the SLPS Special Olympics coordinator for years, Rosalie is always on the lookout for ways to include more students and offer additional sports opportunities, getting busses donated for events and Challenge Days, finding free venues for track meets and appealing to any potential sponsor she can find to support a bowling or special event. Most of this she does on her personal time as her PT duties take a majority of time during the school day. SLPS students with disabilities desperately in need of services are lucky to have an advocate as outspoken and resourceful as Rosalie, and we so appreciate all of her support of Special Olympics Missouri.

Peggy’s daughter, Lisa, has been participating in Special Olympics for many years. In the beginning, Peggy was a great spectator taking in Lisa’s accomplishments. It did not take long until we realized what a vital role Peggy would and could play in the area. She coaches bocce and bowling and she assists with many other sports in our area. Under her leadership, participation in the bowling program has grown to the largest ever. When she first started coaching bocce, she had approximately four athletes who consistently played — now she has more than ten. She is organized and helps them gain skills in the sport they are practicing and she also teaches them life skills so they can be prepared both on and off of the playing field. Simply put, she is there. Whenever we need her and whatever we need her for, she is there. If we need an extra coach, she will do it. Bus driver? She will do it. Chaperone or fundraiser? She’s there. Peggy is truly a giver who expects nothing in return. She is more than the mother of Lisa, she has a special place in the hearts of all the Southeast Area athletes and of all other people she gets to know. Never has she ever wavered in her loyalty to her daughter or to a program she is so much a part of. She truly does make a difference in the area. It is stronger because she is a part of it.

A couple of years ago, the longtime Nevada coach retired and Bonnie Franklin stepped into that position. Since that time, she has organized many events in the Nevada area to raise funds. She also hosts a local basketball tournament at the high school. She is an amazing person and loves all of the athletes. She is always there to help, gets her paperwork in on time and makes sure all physicals are up to date. Bonnie is always willing to help and makes sure that athletes are at area fundraisers to participate in any way that we need them. Everything that Bonnie does, she gives 100 percent to it and never lets anyone down. She involves the school and all of the parents with the program.