Apryle Nickson spent 25 years as a Special Olympics Florida swimming coach in Orange County. She’s a former Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year, has coached in two Special Olympics World Games, and will serve as the swimming Competition Director in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
“The thing that matters most is the connection you make with athletes and their families. I still text with athletes I worked with 11 years ago. I’ve held the hand of an athlete nervous about speaking on live television. You just have to be there for them and celebrate everyone’s achievements – no matter how big or small. It’s an honor to share those moments.”
Apryle lets no one question the potential of her athletes. Twenty-five years ago, she said, she wouldn’t have imagined athletes competing in sports like stand-up paddle and open-water swim.
“People will say, ‘They [Special Olympics Athletes] can’t do that,’ and I always say, ‘Yes they can.’ I want no limits on what my athletes can do. Who knows what we’re going to do next?”