An honor long overdueCarol Feldmann was named the 2010 Outstanding Coach for Special Olympics Minnesota
By: By Eric Morken, Sports Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
Alexandria’s Carol Feldmann recently became the recipient of an award that many would say is long overdue for the retired teacher of 35 years.
Special Olympics (SO) Minnesota recently named Feldmann the winner of the 2010 Outstanding Coach Award for her dedication to the Alexandria Area Special Olympics program. That dedication started more than 30 years ago when she helped get the area program up and running.
“I was teaching physical education at the time and then I got my adapted physical education license,” she said. “I saw a need where other athletes were getting to compete, and so it was something that I thought would be good for my athletes.
“Special education teachers at Central [junior high school in Alexandria] were very helpful and understanding. They were taking athletes to Moorhead in track and field before. We started with track and field and added bowling, swimming, tennis and basketball.”
Feldmann has coached almost everything that has been offered to athletes over the years. She focuses most of her time on coaching the Special Olympic bowling and swimming teams now. Both are important to her because they are lifelong sports that the athletes can do with family and friends outside of SO competitions.
The success of the Alexandria area team has garnered Feldmann some honors over the years. She represented the program as a coach for the Minnesota team at the Special Olympics World Games in 1991 and then again in 1995. Feldmann also helped coach Alexandria’s Lindsay Gruber to the Female Athlete of the Year Award in 2008.
But any personal recognition is not what she is looking for. Feldmann keeps coaching because of the satisfaction she gets out of seeing an athlete’s face light up and the constant encouragement they give each other in competitions.
“The athletes give back so much more than you can ever put in,” she said. “The smiles, the hugs. Just watching the athletes, they beam from ear to ear. The camaraderie of the athletes, it’s just kind of infectious. It just makes you feel wonderful. The high fives, the hugs, the ‘good jobs,’ – everything is so positive with Special Olympic athletes.”
Helping bring a smile to someone’s face is good enough compensation for her. Special Olympics Minnesota is a total volunteer effort. The statewide program recognizes the selflessness of their volunteers every year with the Distinguished Service Awards.
Feldmann will be honored with her Outstanding Coach Award at a banquet on January 16 at the Minneapolis Airport Hilton. It is an award she is humbled to receive but one she will enjoy after three decades of coaching.
“It’s a very special award,” Feldmann said. “I don’t really know what to say. The athletes do all the work. I just provide the time and work on getting the facilities and setting up schedules. The athletes put in all the work in the swimming and the bowling.
“When they come to practice, they are ready and want to get going right away. They want to improve their scores and just want to have fun. We just try to make it as positive as possible.”
Feldmann spends around three hours a week with her swimming and bowling teams during the season. She is also the head coach of a perennially successful Alexandria adapted bowling team at Jefferson High School.
It is a role that Feldmann does not see herself giving up anytime soon. After 30 years, she still feels she gets more out of her involvement with Special Olympics than she puts into it. That attitude has helped bring joy to a lot of athletes’ lives over the years. On January 16, she will be recognized for that with an award that has been a long time coming.