Meet Yuma's Conner Smith
Age – 26
How long have you been involved with Special Olympics Arizona? 21 years
How did you first start with SOAZ and what impact has it made in your life?
My first ever Special Olympics sport I played was soccer. My first coach in Special Olympics was Kathy, I always called her Miss Kathy, and I am thankful for her because she was always patient with me at soccer practice. She was a happy coach.
When I was younger, I did not get invited to birthday parties, but having my Special Olympics friends, I always was invited to their parties, and we had so much fun.
I then became invovled with other sports besides soccer, and my friendships began to grow. I played basketball, went bowling, and was on the swim team, and track & field.
By the time I reached Jr High School, it was difficult to fit in, to talk to people, and make friends. I did not try out for sports. I had the physical ability to play, but it was hard to concentrate, focus, and think quickly. Being able to participate in Yuma Special Olympcis gave me the chance to play sports, and learn new skills. In high schools I did make some friends, and they accepted me for who I am, and we are still friends, even though we have graduated.
What activities have you done with SOAZ?
Since becoming a Yuma Special Olympic athlete, I have had many opportunities for participation in sports that I love, and have been able to travel to competitions, and speak about what Special Olympics means to me.
I have met NFL quarterback for the New Orleans Saints Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram at the NFL free 60 experience in Feb 2015. It was a chance to meet professional athletes, and play football with them. Our Yuma athletes have traveled to Phoenix for a basketball clinic with the Phx Suns. I have had the privilege to carry the torch for opening ceremonies for LETR with our law enforcement officers.
What was your proudest moment?
Being selected for the Arizona Unified Basketball Team. We traveled to Abu Dhabi, in March of 2019, to represent the United States at World Games. Our team placed 4th out of 31 teams. Special Olympics Arizona has given me all of these opportunities.