To be a Special Olympics coach, it helps to have patience and a love of the game. To be a bocce coach, you also have to be pretty good at bocce.
That’s according to Silvan Wilson, who’s been coaching sports for 20+ years with Special Olympics Jamaica. “You can’t just tell athletes what to do, you have to be able to show it.” That means being able to get as many bocce balls as close to the target ball as possible. A good bocce player needs to have control, judgment and a lot of patience.
Coach Silvan has all that, according to the athletes he coaches. “Gentle and patient,” says Alton Carter, who’s been a Special Olympics athlete for many decades. He lives at the Golden Age Home, where he’s lived since he was in his 20s, when his previous institution burned down. Now 63, Alton has a glint in his eye when his teammates talk about winning.
So do Vincent Evans, another resident of the Golden Age Home, and Dewayne Vanriel. Coach Silvan says, “Sports help them because in their lives, they feel left out.”
But on the bocce court, they fit right in. By the time the competition was over, Team Jamaica had won gold. The team is also coached by Patricia Perry, and includes athletes Esther Pair, Shereen Gordon and Helena Thomas.
After experiencing many World Games victories, Silvan talks about what his athletes mean to him. “They lift me,” he says. “And together, we lift one another.”