By Julie Devine
For South Bay coach Dave Barro, Special Olympics Southern California is an experience of a lifetime. In more than nine years, he has seen basketball transform lives and continue to shape athletes with determination, and provide a sense of community.
A former high school basketball player, Dave began his involvement with SOSC volunteering for basketball and soccer teams.
“I started because I’ve always thought it was a wonderful organization,” he said. “I’ve always heard about it, wanted to join so when the opportunity came I wanted to take advantage of it.”
Through years of his involvement, he sees the ability and potential in people of all kinds. He has seen the capabilities in being able to work hard, build relationships, and people joining together to become as one. His appreciation and respect for the athletes’ abilities to overcome life’s adversities “with such positive attitudes” has been “an unbelievable experience.”
“The most rewarding aspect of coach is just being with the athletes, they’re so fun,” Dave said. “I like their competitive nature, it’s a real pleasure. For our practices and tournaments, win or lose, it’s always a good experience.”
Sportsmanship never runs dry with Dave’s Sharp Shooters team, with every experience strengthening their unity and developing a strong bond between them. Regardless of the result, he just asks that they work together.
For the Sharp Shooters, the team comes first.
“Basketball is not an individual sport, but is a team sport,” he added. “So whether someone makes a shot or misses a shot, good play or bad play, we are going to stick together and be true to each other.”
The learning never stops for either the coach or the athletes of a team. Over and over, they continue to grow in talent and strive to become stronger athletes. Dave said the athletes have taught him what determination looks like, as the practices they run through are not easy.
“But the athletes still choose to persevere because they want to be there,” he said.
Not only do they train together, but they live life side-by-side together. Dave sees the team as a “second family.” Whether it’s a car ride or a shoulder to cry on, he’s ready to jump in.
“I want to support my team beyond just coaching basketball,” he said. “We are there for one another.”