08 Dec Special Olympics Montana Announces Athlete and Coach of the Year
Annually, as a way to give thanks, Special Olympics Montana takes the time to celebrate and honor the heroes and stars of our organization through the Distinguished Service Awards. These awards are the most prestigious awards given by Special Olympics Montana. Nominations are received by athletes, families, coaches, and volunteers from across the state and a selection committee has the difficult job of choosing the award winners.
Two of the eleven awards were given out at the SOMT State Basketball Opening Ceremony in November– Coach of the Year and Athlete of the Year. Awards are presented as surprised to each of recipients. The remaining awards will be present in a similar fashion over the upcoming months.
The 2017 Athlete of the Year was presented to Nick Roberts of Great Falls and the Coach of the Year was given to Denny Hogan also of Great Falls.
Nick Roberts has a remarkable history with Special Olympics. He has been training and competing in Special Olympics for 15 years. First with Special Olympics Alaska and the past 10 years with Special Olympics Montana. Nick competes year-round in basketball, snowshoeing, athletics, bocce, and bowling on the Great Falls Wild Hornets team. In addition to competing, he supports his team by participation in fundraising opportunities like the Chevy Raffle ticket sales, Tip-a-Cop events, and Polar Plunge. As trained Global Messenger and member of the State Youth Activation Committee, Nick advocates for his fellow athletes and serves as role model for his peers.
The following is an excerpt from SOMT CEO/President Bob Norbie’s Opening Ceremony speech, “Personally, I can tell you Nick has been an inspiration. By his example, he has shown me how to live gracefully, joyfully and thankfully. By his example, he has shown me how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. By his example, he has shown me how to persevere over the long haul. I know countless others have been inspired similarly.”
Denny Hogan has been involved with Special Olympics Montana for over 20 years. Coaching multiple seasons per year, and impacting the lives of countless athletes and unified teammates. During his tenure with the Great Falls Lions, he has coached athletics, soccer, basketball, cycling, and softball. Denny also has coached twice at the national level. Coaching athletics in 2006 at the Special Olympics National Games and soccer in 2010.In addition to being a dedicated coach for the Great Falls Schools District Special Olympics team (the GF Lions), Denny teaches 6th-grade at Riverview Elementary.
Kathy Wanner, the GF Lion’s Local Program Coordinator, nominated Denny and said the following, “He is the coach that you would wish your own children could have. He is genuine, caring, and knowledgeable about the sports he coaches.”
Fellow GF Lion’s coach Suzie Barringer said this in her letter of support, “Denny has always had great relationships with the athletes. Because he admires and respects them, they in-turn, admire and respect him. Even though he is always pushing them to do better, he makes practices fun and motivating. He has a great sense of humor and always finds ways to laugh with the athletes.”