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Apryle Nickson selected as the 2012 Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year

Orange County Public Schools

Apryle Nickson

Apryle Nickson, an adaptive physical education teacher at several schools district wide, is the 2012 Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year. Nickson was selected from among 13 finalists. The Coach of the Year Award is given annually to an active, certified Special Olympics coach who has met several criteria, particularly having made a significant and demonstrable impact on local Special Olympics Programs and their communities.

According to Special Olympics North America (SONA), Nickson was selected in large part because of her excellence in coaching the sport of aquatics. She has a strong background in coaching at the high school level in Florida and is the head swim coach at Dr. Phillips High School.

Nickson trains her Special Olympics aquatics athletes six months out of the year. The program includes includes weekly home fitness programs, stretching, and nutrition. In her training plans, athletes are provided cross-training opportunities in cycling. Nickson routinely brings in certified officials to teach athletes the rules of the game. In addition to aquatics and cycling, she has also coached Special Olympics tennis and has completed every desired behavior listed in the SONA Progression of Coaching Excellence.

Nickson said, "I've spent the last 20 years supporting and promoting equality for children with disabilities, so this award is a reflection of that work. While I received the honor, it is certainly not about me. It is about all the children, parents, and other volunteers who are a part of this amazing organization, Special Olympics. To be recognized is definitely a wonderful thing, but there are thousands of people who pledge their love and support to our amazing athletes. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to continue to spread awareness for Special Olympics and all those involved."

"Apryle embodies Special Olympics' commitment to providing every athlete with the quality coaching they deserve," said Bob Gobrecht, president and regional managing director, Special Olympics North America. Gobrecht also said, "What she accomplishes through her coaching is truly exemplary - she represents the best of the best among hundreds of thousands of excellent volunteer coaches. Her commitment and deep compassion for the athletes of Special Olympics should inspire us all to do more and reach further."