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The Road to World Games: Randy Coleman, Head Kayaking Coach  

Coleman and team showcasing their World Games medals

Randy Coleman of Horton, Michigan, has been involved with Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) for 13 years. His involvement started as a parent in 2009 when his daughter, Stephanie, signed up to play soccer as an athlete. What started out as helping in practices, led him to become more involved.

Special Olympics is part of a family,” Coleman explained. “What I really enjoy the most is working with the athletes, seeing how they compete, the fulfillment they get out of being part of something, finding out what they can do ability-wise through practice and competition.”

Over the years, Coleman has volunteered as a certified coach in Alpine skiing, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, cycling, kayaking, snowboarding, softball, swimming, and volleyball. He is now the Area 19 Director, serving the athletes of Jackson County.

Coleman, SOUSA HeadshotA few years ago, Coleman was tapped to help launch an inaugural kayaking team for SOMI. “We started out with a few athletes, six or seven, just get them out on the water,” Coleman explained. “It was a good feeling to get other people out there that can enjoy the sport just as much as I do.” Three years after forming that first team, kayaking became a certified SOMI sport statewide.  “It’s rewarding to see how the athletes not only advance physically when participating in a sport but to be part of something that means a lot to them,” Coleman said.

When he learned of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, Coleman quickly raised his hand to go. Always modest, Coleman explained Berlin as a “shoot-for-the-moon” type of dream.

When I got the call, I was really excited,” he said when he learned he’d be serving as Head Coach for Special Olympics USA’s kayaking team. “A matter of knowing that they selected me to work with national athletes and travel to Germany… I felt honored more than anything.”

“It’s going to be surreal,” Coleman expanded on the upcoming trip. “I don’t know what to expect other than to have an awesome time.” Although authentic Sauerkraut and Schnitzel might be some highlights, Coleman is looking forward to seeing his athletes shine on the international stage. “My biggest thrill is watching them on the pedestal getting their medals -  the joy and smiles,” he said, with a smile of his own.

Outside of his commitment to SOMI, Coleman is retired from Consumers Energy. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 42 years, Rhonda, and his two daughters. Coleman loves the outdoors, including hunting, fishing, camping – and of course, kayaking.