NSU exercise, sports science students help train Special Olympics athletes

Program is first class in US to include Special Olympics athletes

DAVIE, Fla. – Nova Southeastern University exercise and sports science students are helping train athletes for the Special Olympics.

Victor Tarin, 22, is on the NSU swim team and knows what it takes to be a winner.

Now, he is helping Reggie and Michael Snead be the best they can be. All three are part of a new course at NSU in which exercise and sports science students, such as Tarin, train athletes from the Special Olympics.

"They have someone assess where they started, design an exercise program for them to do every Monday night, plus during the week," Broward Special Olympics director Linda Mills said.

The goal of the adapted community fitness course is to improve the flexibility, aerobic endurance and muscle strength of the Special Olympics athletes.

The program is really a win-win for everyone. The students get hands-on training and the athletes get a personal trainer.

"I know most of them as athletes or students, and to see them get out of their comfort zone and work with different personalities and restrictions, and adapt what they've learned -- it's really special," Steve Orris, of NSU, said.

Tarin is a competitor, but one day he hopes to be a coach. Thanks to Reggie and Michael Snead, he's learning how to get the most out of the people he trains.

"I always talk to them, encourage them. Reggie doesn't need it as much, but with Michael, he responds to positive feedback, personal touch. I give him a pat on the back," Tarin said.

Reggie Snead has been competing in the Special Olympics for 17 years. He said he loves everything from basketball to bowling.

The new integrated class is helping him feel even more fit.

"I'm losing some weight, getting stronger, faster. You know, it's fun getting strong," he said.

The NSU program is the only class in the country that includes Special Olympics athletes.  

Tarin has always wanted to be a coach and thanks to what he's learned this year, he now wants to train people with special needs.

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