Rosie Ryan had a good cry for herself.
Her heart was bursting at the seams. She was overwhelmed with happiness.
The retired teacher and coach is usually calm, cool and collected.
The Stephenville woman has won a number of national awards for coaching and leadership in her day but finding out that she has been chosen the 2018 Special Olympics Canada coach of the year proved to be the most humbling experience of her life.
“Sometimes you don’t think what you do really impacts to the point sometimes that it does and, of course, in your own little world you don’t really see yourself on the national stage,” Ryan said Wednesday morning from Toronto.
Ryan found out three months ago that she had won the Special Olympics coach of the year award for Newfoundland and Labrador. She got an email a few weeks ago informing her that she was invited to the 50th anniversary celebration of Special Olympics Canada to pick up the national coach of the year hardware.
Ryan helped start a Special Olympics program in the Bay St. George area a decade ago.
“I just thought it would be an amazing opportunity for growth for any of the Special Olympians in our area and a chance to get them out competing and getting engaged in things they otherwise they wouldn’t have had the opportunity,” she said.
The award is special for her, just like the athletes she has spent so much time with over the years.
She said it’s humbling to win the award because there are so many amazing coaches who dedicate a lot of time and energy to the Special Olympics program.
She believes she gets more out of working with these athletes than the athletes themselves because every day has been a new learning experience for her.
“Their smiles are infectious is the only way I can explain it. You walk into a room and they make you feel like there is no tomorrow.”
She has developed loving relationships with her athletes and their families over the years. Being retired and no longer having to spend the day in the classroom is good news for the Special Olympics program because Ryan now has more time to give to athletes who have touched her life.
She will receive her award tonight. Then, on Friday night, she will attend the 50th anniversary gala — fancy black-tie affair and a fundraising venture for Special Olympics Canada.
For a woman who spent most of her life in track pants or a pair of shorts she’s a little anxious about finding something to wear to the gala. She laughed when she revealed while there were a few New Year’s parties for which she got all dolled up, for the most part her life has been lived in more comfortable attire.
“When they tell you it’s thousand dollars a plate and you think about what the dresses look like you are kind of like, ‘Oh God,’” she said with a hearty chuckle.