Daniel Rothe is used to attending competitions with his delegation from Transylvania County. But at the 2016 SONC Summer Games, something was different. Instead of competing with his teammates, he had a new role: coach.
A knee injury forced Rothe to step away from competition in order to heal in time to play his favorite sport, soccer. An active participant in Polar Plunges and fundraising, Rothe is committed to being involved in his local program in any way possible.
Now, however, he realized that he wanted to be involved with Special Olympics in a new way. At just 19 years old, Rothe stepped up to help lead his fellow athletes as a coach for athletics.
“He has always shown great leadership with the other athletes, so he decided to try coaching,” said Rothe’s mother, Judy.
Judy, a longtime volunteer, was inspired by Rothe’s choice and decided to become a coach with her son. Together, they went through the training and Rothe soon began coaching athletics. In practices leading up the state-level games, Rothe showed his team encouragement and quickly became a mentor for his fellow athletes.
When it came time for Summer Games, Rothe was a bit nervous to be on a different side of competition. From leading the warm-ups to making sure every athlete was in the right place at the right time, Rothe proved he was up to the task of being a coach. Now Rothe has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to prepare others to compete rather than just preparing yourself.
This perspective has allowed him to think about what advice he would give other coaches.
“I would say try to make sure you’re thinking of what the athletes’ strengths are,” explained Rothe. “Focus on what their strengths are, rather than trying to focus on fixing their weaknesses.”
As an athlete and a coach, Rothe believes he has been able to relate to the athletes on his team in ways others may not be able to. Because of this connection and what it has done for him and his team, Rothe says he would encourage other athletes to become coaches, too.
“It’s a great experience and it would open their eyes a lot more to what other athletes feel and see it from the coaching side,” said Rothe.
Though he has gotten much out of his coaching experience, he won’t be hanging up his cleats for good. Rothe believes his love for coaching has only made his love of playing sports grow.
When he steps back on the soccer field, he will continue encouraging those around him as a teammate until athletics season starts again.
Until then, Rothe will continue Polar Plunging, watching sports, and working at Transylvania Vocational Services, where he maintains the grounds and helps with minor house repairs with his mentor.
And at the 2017 SONC Summer Games, Rothe will stand among the other coaches from across the state, including his mother, and recite the Special Olympics Coach’s Oath:
“In the name of all coaches and in the spirit of sportsmanship, I promise that we will act professionally, respect others, and ensure a positive experience for all. I promise to provide quality sports and training opportunities in a safe environment for all athletes.”
Congratulations on being named 2017 SONC February Athlete of the Month, Daniel!
Car: His new crimson colored Ford F-150
Sports Team(s): Daniel’s favorite sports team is Alabama Crimson Tide – Roll Tide!
Animal: His favorite animal is a dog. He helps foster dogs until they get into their forever home.
Vacation: The beach