‘Coach’ learns from Special Olympians

Published 11:35 am Thursday, June 20, 2019

They call him “Coach.”

Parker Prysiazniuk is a rising senior at Davie County High School. He runs track and cross country.

And he coaches.

Recently, he took seven Special Olympics athletes to the state games in Raleigh. They came home with 17 gold and silver medals.

A volunteer Special Olympics tennis coach for four years, Prysiazniuk got to know many of the parents of these athletes. He learned there were few opportunities for them to prove their abilities.

He is also a member of the SURF Board, a youth grant-making group at the Davie Community Foundation. He proposed forming the team to that board, and was given a $1,500 grant.

That money was used to buy uniforms, equipment and fees for the state games. He then recruited some of his friends to help coach the team.

They practiced once a week at the North Davie track in preparation for the state games.

And like most people who get involved in similar ventures, Prysiazniuk says he received much more from the athletes than he gave them.

“I thought I would be able to help the athletes learn about track … but they taught me more,” he said. “They’re so energetic and enthusiastic and encouraging to one another.”

He was also proud at the state meet at St. Augustine College, when organizers told him it was “unprecedented” for such a new team to win so many medals.

He’s looking forward to next season, and hopes someone will take the reins once he has graduated from high school.