Jerry Marsh's passion to nurture social acceptance through shared sports, and his position as a Pasco County PE teacher, motivated him to become a Special Olympics Unified Sports® Coach. Jerry takes humble delight training athletes to compete in county, area, and state competitions. His seasonal commitment includes Bowling, Soccer, and Stand Up Paddle boarding. Last year, the school he works for (Longleaf Elementary), was selected as a 2018 National Banner Unified Champion School.
I am honored to share Jerry’s recent coaching experience in the County and Area SUP Championship. As I encouraged the Olympians from the water's edge, I observed that Jerry was paddling alongside a competitor, and voicing brief commands. Though odd to bystanders, the athlete responded diligently, as he maneuvered his board with satisfaction. The pair continued until the young man finished the 1.8 mile event, and prepared for dismount. I couldn’t comprehend why Jerry was so focused on remaining at his side. I thought the athletes were to cross the finish line independently, and I didn't observe any physical impairments. As I trotted to capture the Olympian’s smile, a younger player bumped into me, cheering, “That’s my friend! I can’t believe they did all 4 laps! He didn’t fall and he's getting a medal! You know that he’s BLIND!?" I was speechless. My husband, Jerry Marsh, actually lost his prescription sunglasses coaching that day but selflessly gave sight to another.