Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: Bryan Fagan

#50for50: Volume 12
▪️ Bryan Fagan
▪️ Unified Track & Field Coach
▪️ Souderton Area High School

“I am a Unified Track coach here at Souderton. I grew up in Doylestown and I’ve been teaching here for seven years. I teach Family & Consumer Sciences and I started working in restaurants when I was 12, bussing tables, dish washing and I worked in restaurants until I started teaching. … We tried to make sure we were setting up a program that was as similar to our varsity programs as it possibly could be. Doing things like having an apparel store or having the mentality of, ‘we’re practicing and pushing ourselves just like the varsity track and football team does.’ When it was raining and the varsity track team was outside practicing, we were outside practicing. … It was one of those things with teaching FCS, I have all our Special Ed kids coming through. So for me, my classes have always been unified. Helping that valedictorian understand that, ‘You’re going to be working with people with different ability levels. Not everybody’s text-book-smart like you are. If you become a business owner, how are you going to set people up for success as well as set your company up for success?’ … The Unified Track program has grown from the very first year with 14 kids on the team to last year, we had 20 managers, we had 42 kids that wanted to compete in track. We maxed out our 35-student roster and had kids running JV right with them. … For us, it’s really just a culture thing. It’s all about that ripple effect. It’s about having students come back in five years to say, ‘I’m doing this because I ran Unified Track or played Bocce.’ … The summer after my first year coaching, I got an email from one of our athletes’ parents with a picture of the athlete and two of our partner athletes from track. These two partner athletes had emailed her asking if they could take the athlete out to lunch. Being able to see that what we’re doing here was making its way out to social lives outside the building — especially since those partner athletes had already graduated — was probably one of the greatest moments I’ve had.”

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Special Olympics Pennsylvania

The mission of Special Olympics Pennsylvania is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

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