By Emma Vandine
When it comes to involvement with Special Olympics, athlete Joselyn Bermudez and her family demonstrate how there is no such thing as “too busy” or “too involved.” Starting as an athlete ten years ago at the age of 13, Joselyn now participates in five sports for SOSC, while her parents coach four of those five sports.
“It gets us out of the house,” said Joselyn. “And it gets us away from that TV and that couch!” Joselyn participates in floor hockey, bowling, basketball, tennis, and softball. She was looking forward to adding flag football to her resume this year, but the COVID-19 heath crisis affected the SOSC sports seasons.
According to Joselyn, SOSC has positively impacted her attitude and has given her an outlet. “I feel like I’ve gotten better with my emotions,” she said. “It’s always nice to let it out on the field!”
Joselyn has also been recruited by Kellie Peterson, a Special Olympics employee, to become a Global Messenger for Special Olympics. In this role, Joselyn will help communicate the powerful declarations of hope, acceptance and courage of Special Olympics athletes around the world as a leader and message-bearer. She is looking forward to training once everything is back open and safe.
Her parents, Alicia and Jaime, began their involvement with SOSC about four years ago by getting trained and certified as coaches for most of the sports Joselyn participates in.
They decided to become coaches so they could stay closer to Joselyn, especially during traveling for competitions. “We’re kind of hooked now,” said Alicia. “We enjoy it!”
Even though Joselyn is beginning to transition to a higher division, Alicia and Jaime will remain coaching the lower division. Jaime admits that he loves the athlete interaction.
“[I enjoy] going out there and watching how they improve from season to season – physically, emotionally and mentally,” said Jaime.
“We’ve learned a lot of tolerance, patience and acceptance, and that’s what we like to try to pass along to everybody,” said Alicia. The Bermudez household takes pride in sharing with family, friends and coworkers about the importance of inclusion.
Both parents recount a favorite memory with SOSC two years ago when Joselyn’s floor hockey team won five straight games in one day (with one game even going into triple overtime), ultimately winning the gold medal for the season championship.
“I think the parents were more excited than the athletes,” joked Jaime.
On top of being a coach, Jaime is also in law enforcement and has been a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for about three years. “I enjoy getting involved with co-workers so they can see what Special Olympics does.” He especially enjoys volunteering and raising funds at events like Tip-A-Cops and the Guardian Bowl, and he is looking forward to when events like those can happen again. LETR is a public awareness vehicle and grassroots fundraiser with representation in all 50 states and over 3,500 law enforcement officers in Southern California alone championing acceptance and inclusion.
Joselyn and her parents are not the only members of the Bermudez family involved with Special Olympics – they also have two small dogs named Jasmine and Freddie who they take with them to most tournaments and events. Jasmine is Joselyn’s emotional support animal and both dogs are known by name amongst fellow athletes and are quite popular.
“[Jasmine’s] really nice to talk to when I’m mad because she won’t talk back like my mom,” joked Joselyn.
When COVID-19 hit, the Bermudez family had to adjust to a whole new routine that didn’t include consistent practices, games, events or tournaments. Joselyn is staying active by exercising with her mom in their garage, swimming in their pool, and playing an exercise game on her Nintendo Switch called, “Ring Fit Adventure.”
The Bermudez family think about other athletes frequently, and hope they are not feeling discouraged or alone during this unprecedented time. “Just because there are no sports right now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep exercising – don’t give up,” said Joselyn. “I miss everyone, and I just really hope that with all this going on they’re all making sure to stay healthy, active and safe.”
They are looking forward to resuming their busy schedule and getting out there again. “We didn’t realize how much we were involved until we weren’t, said Alicia. “We miss it.”