By Zach Fidel
Special Olympics Southern California athletes don’t just get the opportunity to compete in various sporting events, they also get the chance make a lasting impact within the organization. Some even have traveled to places they have never dreamed about going.
Charles Martindale, the San Diego Athlete Input Council Vice President, is an example of both. With a love of floor hockey, Charles was a member of the San Diego team that represented Special Olympics USA at the 2017 Special Olympics Winter World Games.
“I was extremely thankful that I got the chance to go to Austria, and represent Special Olympics USA,” he said. “That was probably one of my best memories I’ve had that I can think of.”
Charles, who joined Special Olympics 10 years ago at the age of 22, never thought he would find such a great community like SOSC. Initially, he thought he had aged out of sports. After learning more about SOSC, Charles got his parents involved as much as they could. Soon enough, there were two Martindales heavily involved—one as a player, and the other, Charles’s father Mark, as an assistant coach for the teams he plays on.
Charles competes in many sports but found his niche in floor hockey. Like many athletes, he describes himself as “very competitive” and tough, which are traits that correlate well to floor hockey.
“I try to have that mentality all the time of not quitting, when I’m playing floor hockey,” Charles said. “I learned that some of my teammates are tougher than me, but it has taught me not to get on myself too hard when I make mistakes.”
When he’s not competing, Charles devotes his time to the Athlete Input Council. This is a forum Special Olympics created both at a state and national level to allow athletes to voice their opinions on important issues, and to gain leadership training.
In October, WeAreSOSC.org we had the chance to virtually meet the representatives from the San Diego Athlete Input Council, and speak with their members on what it means to be part of the Input Council.
Many of the San Diego members mentioned that it makes them feel good that the other athletes within Special Olympics San Diego know that they can always count on them, and that they have “their backs,” and Charles echoed this throughout the meeting.
“I always try to make sure I’m there for everyone, it makes me feel really, really great,” he said. “It feels really awesome inside of my heart.”