A Special Spring Tradition

April 1, 2015

FORT WORTH -- Just minutes into the Horned Frogs' first soccer clinic in 2013 with athletes from the Special Olympics, TCU soccer coach Eric Bell bought into it hook, line and sinker.

"We were approached by the people at the Special Olympics when first got here to do a clinic, and I wasn't very fired up to do it, to be fair. I knew it was something we probably should do. After we did it the first year, I fell in love with the group of kids," Bell said.

"I am impressed by some of the big personalities they have and how funny and enjoyable they are to be around. My impression of special needs athletes was totally different going into it, and now I have changed 180 degrees. I have a lot of respect and admiration for them and look forward to working with them in the future."

TCU student-athlete Bobbi Clemmer, who has participated in the event for three years, agreed.

"My freshman year I wasn't sure what to expect because I had never worked with them before," she said. "I absolutely loved it and was looking forward to the next year. Each year has gotten so much better."

TCU student-athlete Makenzie Koch, who has been involved in the skills clinic for three years as well, finds she gets as much out of it as the participants do.

"It's one of my favorite days of the year for sure," she said. "The first time we did it I really didn't know what to expect, but once we started doing it, we realized how easy it was and how happy the kids are and the smiles they brought to our faces. It's exciting for all of us."

"There are four or five who have been here every single year," Clemmer said. "There is Movie Star Miles, and he always tells me about how he's been in a movie, and I think that's great, and there is Marissa and Joey and several others who have really touched my heart."

"They are just like any other kid, and they want to enjoy the sport the best they can," Bell said. "Maybe they have some disability that doesn't allow them to compete at the highest level, but they want to enjoy the game, have some fun and learn from our players. Our players have an opportunity to learn from them and know they are blessed. It's a cool and awesome day."

The clinic, which was held in March, runs nearly two hours and includes a coaches clinic as well as three skills stations for the athletes. After, the athletes and coaches spend time together eating snacks and getting to know each other a little better.

"We interact with them and play with them because it is about soccer," Koch said. "But mainly it's about spending time with them and showing that we care about them. You'd be surprised about how much we get out of it as well."

It's a date, Bell said, that he and his team will continue to circle on the calendar.

"We want to have a presence in the community, and this is one way in which we can do that," Bell said. "I want our kids to be well-rounded prior to graduating from here and giving back to the community is one of those things that is very important."



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