Beth Selbe does more than just coach Special Olympics Southern California athletes in the San Diego area. She’s also helping mold the next wave of athlete advocates.
Beth is the mother to 26-year-old Thomas Selbe, a floor hockey and basketball player. Nearly a decade of Special Olympics memories in Thomas’ time includes the floor hockey team’s selection for the 2017 Special Olympics World Games in Austria.
While her involvement is tied to Thomas, Beth remembers needing to be more than “just a parent” in the stands.
“I really loved Special Olympics and their mission,” said Beth, one of 16 recipients of the Michael W. Harahan Award for outstanding volunteer service this year. “I’m one of those people where I see there’s a need, I want to get involved. I can’t just sit still, either.
“Part of it was helping the athletes and, selfishly, part of it was for my own general health, too. If I get in there and help with practices and coach, then I’m going to feel better. I’m going to get more exercise.
“The family part of Special Olympics is what is so special about it, to me. All the athletes and all the families – we’re just one big family.”
They’ve become more than just athletes, too, and Beth has played a key role.
About five years ago, head coach Rodney Hurn suggested that Thomas would be an ideal candidate to become a Global Messenger in the San Diego region. Beth was in line to be a speech coach, but before his first training session Thomas had already completed his first speaking engagement.
After years of speaking engagements in the area, Beth and Thomas were presented an even greater opportunity. Dustin Plunkett, an athlete and SOSC staff member who assists fellow athletes as part of the Athlete Leadership program, asked the pair to be trainers and help future Global Messengers from the San Diego region.
The plan is to put together a class before the end of the year.
“These athletes have the same needs and wants as any other human being on the planet,” Beth said.
Inside the SOSC is a blog managed by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.