Scottsdale Salutes Special Olympics coach Josh Phillips

Josh Phillips (submitted photo)

Josh Phillips (submitted photo)

Passion and kindness are the driving forces behind one Special Olympics coach who calls his experience working with the special athletes “amazing.”

Scottsdale resident Josh Phillips has been volunteering as a coach with the city’s Special Olympics program for three years.

Mr. Phillips, 45, coaches the golf and the flag football team, and says he really enjoys spending time with the athletes he has met through the program.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started doing it,” said Mr. Philips in a Oct. 28 phone interview. “Since I’ve done it, it’s been amazing.”

“I think I get more out of than they do it.”

Mr. Phillips first started with the program after a friend who had recently moved to Arizona from the East Coast recommended he become part of the program. Mr. Phillips.

“A friend of mine has done it for a number of years,” said Mr. Phillips. “He told me how much fun he had with it and recommended I get to be a part of it – and I did. So now, here we are.”

Mr. Phillips said interacting with the athletes is the best part of the gig.

“It’s fun to be a part of their life and see how much this actually means to them.”

He said there is one athlete in particular, Scott Harkness, whom Mr. Phillips has been coaching for a long time.

“We have won four gold medals and a silver medal together at different tournaments,” said Mr. Phillips. “When we show up to practice together, or to a tournament together, there’s nothing more important than that moment right there.”

The flag football team practices once a week and then they will have tournaments with other teams from around the city, typically at the University of Phoenix Stadium, said Mr. Phillips.

“Scottsdale has enough athletes (and) we can put together three or four teams,” said Mr. Phillips of the weekly games they play. “The Scottsdale police and fire are both active as playing partners.”

“We may have three athletes and two policemen or a policeman and a fireman; it’s really cool that we get the support from them.”

There are about 25-30 flag football players and at least that many – if not a few more – on the golf team, according to Mr. Phillips.

The golf team plays in the fall and for about two months; the flag football team starts in late winter to early spring and runs for six or eight weeks.

Mr. Phillips, who moved to Scottsdale from Ohio nine years ago, said he coached his children’s Little League teams years ago, but that’s about it, before joining the Bobcat Special Olympics.

Scottsdale’s adapted recreation services also provides bowling, basketball, track and field and aquatics teams. For more information on the Bobcat Special Olympics sports visit http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/social-services/adaptive-services.

For more information on volunteering in the city of Scottsdale visit www.scottsdaleAZ.gov/volunteer.

To nominate a Scottsdale volunteer e-mail mfittro@newszap.com.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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