For Evan, a student at Crotched Mountain School, there’s no bigger win than being there for his friends.
Evan’s got game. It’s his turn at the basketball shooting competition at the annual state Special Olympics at Derry, NH and he drops in a few shots, showcasing a shooting form (90 degree angle at the elbow, follow-through after release) that would make Larry Bird proud.
He came away with a silver medal that day, but neither that nor his prolific bucket-making was what really brought him joy. Nope, for Evan, it’s coaching that’s in his blood. And the fact he was able to attend the games with his friends and classmates from Crotched Mountain School meant more to him than a truckload of medals.
And Tyler Rodgers can attest to that.
“Evan would always show up to our practices and before I could even say ‘hi’ he’s telling me ‘I want to help,” says Tyler, a recreational therapist for Crotched Mountain School. “He motivates others, cheering them on and offers everyone encouragement no matter what drill they’re working on.”
In the run-up to the state Special Olympics games at the Sports Zone in Derry, NH on April 15, Tyler held weekly afterschool practice sessions in the Crotched Mountain gymnasium. There, students would drop by to work on their dribbling, passing and shooting skills. The ultimate goal, over the months of practice, was to participate in the area games (held in Keene on March 11) and, eventually, at the state games.
All the while, Evan was alongside Tyler, contributing his monster dose of positive energy and urging his compatriots onward.
“It’s definitely something he thoroughly enjoys,” Tyler says. “He excels in the social aspects, the leadership roles. To have a kid like him there to keep people engaged and motivated helps the overall goal of the program.”
“To have a kid like him there to keep people engaged and motivated helps the overall goal of the program.”
These days, with basketball season in the rearview mirror, the focus turns to track and field. And on the first day of practice, who was there? Evan – who didn’t even sign up to participate. But he was ready to go, phone in hand, eager to help with the timekeeping.
When asked what is about coaching and mentoring that draws him in, Evan’s reply is simple: “I just love helping people.” With that, he flashes his huge smile one more time and politely excuses himself.
There’s work to do.