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Team Missouri helps athlete grow both on and off the field

One of the easiest ways to tell if a Special Olympics program is successful is in the growth of the athletes outside of the realm of competition.

One such success story is in Tere’e Trussell from Columbia, Mo.

Trussell, 22, has been involved with Special Olympics Missouri for more than six years, participating in softball, tennis, track, basketball and golf.Trussel, Tere

Central Area Program Director Diane Brimer said Trussell has really developed into a team leader – but it wasn’t too long ago when she thought Trussell wasn’t getting everything out of the program that she wanted.

“When I’d see her at competitions before, she just seemed down all the time,” Brimer said. “She seemed kind of disinterested in what was going on. She didn’t really talk to anyone that she didn’t already know well.”

However, Brimer said she noticed a change in Trussell following her nomination and selection in June 2013 to attend the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games as a part of Team Missouri.

“Just in those few short months since her selection, I couldn’t get over how her personality has really changed and she’s much more outgoing in meeting new people on the team and just enjoying herself,” Brimer said. “She was talking to people I never saw her talk to before.

“She just seemed to be enjoying life so much more.”

Despite being nominated for the team in tennis, Trussell also tried out for the golf team and will be competing in the Level 1 Individual Skills Competition in New Jersey.

Trussell, Ter'e (2)

Trussell practices her golf swing at a Team Missouri training in March 2014.

Trussell said she is “honored” to attend the 2014 USA Games as a part of Team Missouri.

“I’m most looking forward to meeting new people from other states!” Trussell said.

That’s a sentence that Brimer never thought she would hear from Trussell – and firmly believes that being selected for Team Missouri has changed her outlook on Special Olympics Missouri.

It has given her a sense of belonging and being a part of a team, which Trussell said is why SOMO is so important to her.

“I’m a part of a team and have met many new friends,” she said. “I also have lost weight and made better eating choices.”

Brittany Doscher has been actively involved in Trussell’s life as a part of the staff at her assisted living center; Doscher has seen her mature over the years as well.

“I feel like she’s more accountable and shows positive leadership skills,” Doscher said. “I feel that Tere’e has developed a sense of community with all of her teammates.

“Each person brings their own set of strengths and they all work together to bring out the best of each other.