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Athlete of the Year Special Olympian Samantha Walsh dedicated to sports

Samantha Walsh, Provincial Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, and Rosie Ryan, Provincial Special Olympics Coach of the Year, at the YMCA of Western Newfoundland Bay St. George.
Samantha Walsh, Provincial Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, and Rosie Ryan, Provincial Special Olympics Coach of the Year, at the YMCA of Western Newfoundland Bay St. George. - Frank Gale

Samantha Walsh said being recognized as the Special Olympics Provincial Female Athlete of the Year this past weekend made her feel “excited and happy.”

The 16-year-old daughter of Sheila Walsh was presented with her award when she attended a Special Olympics banquet at Clovelly Golf Course in St. John’s.

This Special Olympian is involved in a number of sports. Her top five are: track and field, bowling, snowshoeing, swimming and curling. While she enjoys all her sports, she says curling is her favourite.

Walsh has become really dedicated to participating in sports and now, including her strength and conditioning exercises at the YMCA of Western Newfoundland Bay St. George, spends at least seven to 10 hours at it a week.

She’s currently getting ready for the national qualifier for snowshoeing being held in Grand Falls-Windsor in February through her strength training, then on the snow once winter arrives.

Walsh represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the track and field nationals held at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., July 31 to Aug. 4 and took home one medal.

Walsh is very committed to sports and during the past year has knocked off about 30 pounds as a result of her involvement with the Bay St. George Special Olympics. She is a Grade 11 student at Stephenville High School.

Her coach, Rosie Ryan of the Bay St. George Special Olympics, was named Female Coach of the Year at the Special Olympics banquet.

Ryan said it’s exciting for the club she’s part of to have a coach recognized, because she believes she and her coaching peers lead a good program for Bay St. George.

She said being recognized, with so many amazing coaches in Special Olympics across the province, is a very humbling experience.

Female Athlete of the Year criteria:

Be a registered athlete in a Special Olympics Club

Be involved in Special Olympics sport program(s) throughout the year

Be successful in her sport, achieving personal bests and awards at competitions

Demonstrate improvement in athletic skill

Display sportsmanship and be considerate of athletes, coaches, officials and other volunteers

Consistently act as a role model for fellow Special Olympics athletes

Female Coach of the Year criteria:

Be a registered member of Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador

Have completed Special Olympics Canada Competition Coach Workshop

Exemplify the Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador Coaching Code of Ethics

Have volunteered for a minimum of five years with Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador

Athletic achievements of their athletes

Leadership shown on and off the playing field and the contribution they make to Special Olympics as a whole

Source: Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador

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