Linda Pacovsky’s Plunge Story

Take a moment to meet Linda Pacovsky: Cambria County softball and bowling coach.

How many years have you been plunging? Eight years. I have plunged in both Pittsburgh & Central PA. It’s a hoot, so I just keep doing it.

Why do you plunge? Because of the picture you see here:

Pictured front to back: Linda Pacovsky, Michael Weissinger, Jonathan Reynolds, Brian Weissigner, Brent Mallow, Curtis Weller and Dylan Richardson. Also pictured, assistant coach Brad King far back.

Last spring, Cambria County had their first softball team in 20 years. Linda negotiated field time and borrowed equipment to hold practices. However, at the end of the day, she did not have enough money to buy softball uniforms. So her team wore basketball uniforms to play that first year. And the uniforms were unbelievably hot and not breathable.

Despite that, the team won gold in Division 2 softball during Summer Games at Penn State University.

What got you into coaching? A conversation with another Central Pennsylvania coach. She said that they needed the help, so I thought why not. And now, Linda has no idea why she would stop. She enjoys it so much and sees the impact it has on the athletes.

Linda said that her favorite aspect of coaching is being around the athletes every day and watching their development week after week during practices. She is in awe of the determination her athletes have. The softball team mentioned above had to start from scratch and had varying degrees of knowledge. Some of them didn’t know how to run the bases when they first met and others could hit like a pro. They worked in the cold, in the rain, in the heat and in the end came away with the gold.

SOPA Board Member named to Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 Under 40”

We’re thrilled to share the news that our very own Board Member, Mike Trettel, was named to Pittsburgh Magazine‘s “40 Under 40” Class of 2019.

Trettel, who is the Director of Business Development at i+iconUSA, serves on Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s development and campaign committees and has become a regular at the Pittsburgh Polar Plunge. Extremely regular, in fact, as he is a “super plunger,” meaning he takes the icy dip 24 times within a 12-hour span!

To read more about Mike’s incredible honor, follow this link.

Volunteer Spotlight: Al Garzon

Every month we’ll spotlight a new Special Olympics Pennsylvania volunteer who has made an awesome impact on our community.

This month, we are proud to feature a man with many titles — Montgomery County Roller Skating Sports Director, Floor Hockey Official and Unified Partner, Al Garzon.

“Volunteering with Special Olympics is a reward. Every day our athletes face difficult challenges. If I can make things easier with just a smile, it is well worth it to me.”

– Al Garzon, Montgomery County

Al has been a longtime member of the Special Olympics movement. In 1987, the rink where he worked, skated, and met his wife started a Special Olympics Roller Skating program. Over the years, Al became a floor hockey official and a Unified partner in softball. Additionally, Al volunteers with basketball and soccer and has applied to be an official in three different World Games. It’s his lifetime goal to be selected.

Al also spends his time training and mentoring roller skating coaches and provides support to various floor hockey competitions throughout the state. Currently, three generations of Garzons volunteer at Fall Festival’s roller skating competition every year.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kylee Rae Craig

Every month we’ll spotlight a new Special Olympics Pennsylvania volunteer who has made an awesome impact on our community.

This month, we are proud to feature Washington County powerlifting coach, Kylee Rae Craig.

Before Kylee reached out to SOPA on social media with an interest in becoming a volunteer, Washington County didn’t have a powerlifting program. Now, they’ve got eight athletes training, including four who competed for the first time at the Western Fall Sectional at Slippery Rock University. Kylee was able to get powerlifting belts donated for her athletes and is hopeful the program will continue to grow under her leadership.

“For me, powerlifting is my job. Special Olympics has helped me be reminded of the joy in the sport again, it is AMAZING. The athletes show up excited to learn and willing to try anything.”

– Kylee Rae Craig, Washington County Powerlifting Coach

Kylee, a mom of three, also runs a dog grooming business and only began lifting three years ago. She competes for Misfit Powerlifting and currently ranks Top 5 in the world in bench press (309 lbs) and squat (518 lbs). She currently holds three national records and has spent the previous two years ranked in the top 10 in the world in her weight class. She will soon be competing at the US Nationals with hopes of qualifying for the United States Powerlifting Team!

You can read more about Kylee in this fantastic 2018 article published in the Observer-Reporter and follow her on Instagram here.

Throwback Thursday: QVC staff volunteers at Fall Fest

At the 30th Anniversary of Fall Festival last year, QVC sent 30 volunteers to Villanova’s campus to participate in the fun! Pictured are some of the QVC volunteers with the Area M soccer team.

The QVC team is planning to volunteer again at this year’s Fall Fest and if you’d like to join them, simply visit our website for more information.

Photo and information provided by Kristen Skutch.