By Emma Lee
When walking into the gym at this year’s Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games, your eyes were bound to find the Santa Clarita volleyball team, as cheers of excitement frequently arose. A large portion of those cheers were produced by the Schubert twins, Ryan and Taylor.
Ryan, an athlete, began playing volleyball with SOSC when he was 12 years old. Taylor, the coach, began as a volleyball volunteer when Ryan began playing and eventually moved into a coaching spot when she was old enough. The pair have been unstoppable since. The twins’ parents, Jay and Annaliza Schubert, are also involved as coaches, but Jay admits Taylor leads the team.
Ryan inspired Taylor to join Special Olympics, she said.
”We [the twins] are the youngest of our five siblings, he loved watching me and my older siblings play and it was a way for me to get involved. He inspires me to do everything in my life,” Taylor said.
The competitive drive is apparent in the Schubert family but each of them understands the game is much bigger than winning.
“I wanted to play as a great team, and have great sportsmanship, whether we won or lost. I like to be proud of Special Olympics,” Ryan said when asked why he joined Special Olympics.
When you watch the Santa Clarita team, you cannot immediately tell whether they are winning or losing–that’s how much fun they are having on the court.
“They are just amazing athletes and they are so great to watch,” Jay said. “The amount of fun everyone has, just to watch them out there and see them improve. You can try and tell them little things, sometimes they pick it up right away or maybe further down the line.”
Even off the court, the team is a tight knit group. For Taylor, being active in Special Olympics volleyball has given her a stronger bond with more than just her brother.
“Some of [Ryan’s teammates] I’ve grown up with,” she said. “They are all my brothers’ friends, I’ve gone to their birthday parties, and I’ve grown up with them. They are friends you can talk to, they call you and check on them, they check on you.”
Even beyond this team the same love and encouragement extends throughout all of Special Olympics Southern California volleyball. If a player is having trouble making their serve over the net, the opposing coach may let them try again or encourage them to take a few steps forward.
“The coaches in volleyball are fantastic. They just want their players to play and enjoy the moment,” Jay said.
People like the Schuberts have helped create the positive environment for all involved in SOSC volleyball.