Volunteer Profile - Ryan Croy
How long have you been involved with SOM and in what capacity?
I have been involved with Special Olympics Manitoba for roughly 11 years and in many different roles and capacities, I began initially as a volunteer with a multi-sport club in my local community where i had the opportunity to work closely with volunteers and athletes alike develop their sport skills. I eventually moved into the position of Head Coach of that club, and now as regional leader of the Interlake Region where i help oversee the development of programming within my community. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work in the office for a period of time which allowed me the opportunity to better understand the organization and how to best help people within the community
How did you hear about SOM? Who encouraged you to join as a volunteer?
I heard about SOM Initially as my family and uncle and aunt in particular were very involved in the community. My cousins participated as athletes as well within various clubs in my community. One of my cousins initially encouraged me to join as they thought that my personal experience in sport could help the athletes. But I soon found that the athletes had much more to offer me than I had to offer them
How has your experience been so far?
My experience with Special Olympics Manitoba has been nothing short of a life altering for me as an individual and has shaped the way I see the world and how I want to have an impact on those around me. Shortly after beginning as a volunteer, I realized the value which volunteering in my community can provide. I now better understand the value of mentorship and coaching, how to be a leader in my community, and how to really have fun while trying new things. I have made excellent friendships and have really learned the value of connecting with someone on an individual level. Seeing the success and growth of athletes and volunteers around me has been a wonderful experience and I am forever grateful to Special Olympics for giving me these opportunities to connect with people who I may not have ever known had I not been a part of this experience. One of the most important things to me has really been internalizing the athlete oath into my understanding of the world around me. "Let me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt" this oath speaks to me and the experiences I have witnessed in the program. I have seen plenty of talented athletes struggle in a competition, I have seen athletes' trip, and slip, and fall. But rarely have I seen a negative outlook on their performance. The athletes understand the value of trying, the value of doing their best no matter what. The athletes who I have had the pleasure of coaching understand the importance of attempting to do their best and being brave throughout the entirety of the competition. Bravery like that is a skill which I believe all people can benefit from in whatever position they find themselves in. Success is not just in the winning of an event, success is also being brave enough to try something new.
What has been your most memorable moment volunteering with Special Olympics?
One of my most unique and memorable experiences with Special Olympics was not from a coaching or volunteer perspective at all. Early in my volunteer experience as a volunteer, I also participated in my track and field program in my high school. And while I was not the most talented distance runner, I did enjoy trying to improve year over year. During the provincial championships in this specific year, I was nearing the middle of the race and I was feeling very, very tired. while struggling up a hill I heard someone approaching from behind me, and as they pass, they say through regular steady breathing, "Hello Ryan" and I quickly realized it was one if the athletes I helped coach on a weekly basis! I was absolutely taken aback, and happy to see them in this competition. I tried my best to reply through some laboured breathing and attempted to keep up with them, but the athlete was soon on their way out of my sight. As they began to make further distance between us, I quickly yelled, "Go Athlete Name" and cheered them on as they continued to move confidently forward in their competition. It was one of the most unique experiences for me as a person and helped shape my awareness as the athletes as not just "athletes" but also as my peers and unique individuals who are often very skilled and talented people. I made sure to congratulate the athlete on their performance at the end of the competition and at our following practice.
Why should people volunteer with Special Olympics?
I think all people should have the opportunity to volunteer with Special Olympics, Not only is it fun, and rewarding, but you absolutely see the difference you can make with the people you work with. You can be a part of something great as you can help someone achieve their goal. You can be an influential member in a positive community to help people find personal success.
Also, there are so many ways to volunteer with the organization, so whatever your schedule or lifestyle may look like you should be able to find an opportunity which will suit your needs. For me this has been a very fulfilling experience and I cannot recommend it enough.