Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Stevie Shively (middle) received the Outstanding Coach of the Year award at the Special Olympics Iowa summer games Opening Ceremonies on Thursday, May 21 at Hilton Coliseum.

Stevie Shively had never won an award in the Special Olympics.

That was until Thursday night, when she won the the Outstanding Coach of the Year award at the Special Olympics Iowa summer games Opening Ceremonies on Thursday.

What does she think of the award? Well, for one thing, she doesn't think it is her award to accept. Everybody deserved to win it.

"The award just wasn't for me," she added. "They just singled me out. The award belongs to all of the coaches that work at the Special Olympics and are here [Hilton Coliseum] now."

She was compassionate, and almost every word that came out of her mouth was about others — only something personal if she was asked specifically. 

Her athletes feel the same.

"I was 5 when she first coached me," said Matt Albright, one of her many athletes. "She is a good coach, a very good coach, actually. She has been a good friend of mine for years. I've known her husband for a long time. She's been a good woman, a very good woman."

But Shively wouldn't be the one to admit it.

The first words out of her mouth were of her athletes, Albright and Tom Schmeling, who are both in their mid-40s and have been in the Special Olympics since they were 5 years old. 

She introduced them and said the events they were competing in and they were in several events. But that's who she is, she gives back.

It's been that way ever since she was in high school, where one person influences her giving back personality. 

She recalled a time in the 1960s when there weren't any school programs for children with disabilities. Her father was on the school board in southern Iowa. He was on the one that advocated for the disabled children.

He was her influence and brought her the first experience with volunteering.

When she went to college at Iowa, where she participated in summer camps with children. 

"I had wonderful opportunities at [Iowa]," Shively said. "I'm sure if I would've been here, I would have had the same opportunity to care for disabled children. It's been a lifelong dream and an important thing to advocate."

After Iowa, Shively became a school teacher for children, which may have been the perfect spot for her child-friendly nature.

Working with children on a day-to-day basis is what drew her to the organization. She was a teacher for children with moderate to severe disabilities and saw what sports did to kids. It included them, it made them feel like a part of something.

"It was an excellent opportunity for kids to participate in sports," Shively said. "Certainly not organized like it is now."

After 30-plus years of teaching, she retired four years ago. 

But she continues to volunteer at her church, at her husband's dentistry, where she holds a free dental clinic, mission work and, of course, the Special Olympics Iowa. And "wherever someone needs me."

(1) comment

Amanda Baird

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