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Andersen Air Force Base Airmen coach the Special Olympics

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Spencer Perkins
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, along with members of the local community jumped on the opportunity to volunteer to coach softball for the Special Olympics in Dededo, Guam, from Sept. 16-Nov. 11, 2023.

The Special Olympics takes place throughout the year with a variety of sporting seasons and it this time of the year it’s softball season. Throughout the season, the coaches and players met every Saturday; first to assign teams and then practice fielding, throwing and batting.

“This is a good opportunity for the players to come together, play softball and have a good time,” said Tech. Sgt. Brittany Wallace, Special Olympics coach. “Working with the players has been so much fun and it’s very rewarding to see them improve throughout the weeks.”

The second to last weekend of the season was spent playing games to decide what teams would play each other in the finale.

“My favorite part was seeing the community come out to support and how happy the players were,” said 1st Lt. Ariana Wilkinson, Special Olympics coach. “Whether they got first or fourth place everybody was cheering, hugging and high fiving one another.”

The volunteers weren’t required to have prior coaching or softball experience, however, some of them brought years of knowledge to pass along to the players.

“I’ve played softball for about 14 years, and I’ve coached youth sports in the past,” said Wilkinson. “When I saw they were asking for coaches, I thought it would be a good way for me to give back to the community of Guam and to those individuals that want to be able to play the sport.”

Wallace also shared similar sentiments to Wilkinson as she played softball her whole life and has a great amount of love for the sport. She wanted to try something different and take on the task of helping to coach a team.

While the Airmen were out coaching, it also provided a chance for them to build on the relationship between military members and the local community.

“I think it’s really important for us to get to know people in the local community and for them to see us outside of our uniform,” said Wallace. “When you’re involved in events like this where you meet new people, you’re able to gain a better understanding of the culture and the things that are important to Guam.”