Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

Meet Coach Mark Schnurr

25 February 2017

Special Olympics BC – Coquitlam alpine skiing coach Mark Schnurr says volunteering with SOBC has played an important role in shaping the person he is today.

An SOBC coach of almost 30 years, Schnurr met his wife through Special Olympics and says the organization has given him opportunities to create meaningful friendships, travel to new places, and spend time with joyful athletes. He has made so many great memories with SOBC that he has considered writing a book with fellow longtime coach Randy Scott about their experiences.

A knowledgeable and skilled ski instructor, Schnurr has earned a spot as a coach on Team Canada for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. He says working with SOBC athletes is a wonderful experience, and he wholeheartedly recommends getting involved as a volunteer or coach!

When did you start with Special Olympics, and how did you get involved?

I started with SOBC – Coquitlam in 1988. I needed volunteer hours for high school and my brother Evan was an athlete. I had backgrounds in soccer, skiing, and track and field, so my mom suggested I should volunteer for soccer. I did one season with the SOBC – Coquitlam soccer program, and then heard they were looking for a head coach for alpine skiing. I jumped at the chance, and the rest is history.

What has been your most memorable Special Olympics experience?

I have so many great memories with Special Olympics that it’s hard to talk about just one. My good friend Randy Scott and I have been coaching alpine skiing for the same number of years and have had the same kind of experiences. We often talk about putting a book together about Special Olympics and all of our great memories and experiences with the athletes and coaches. We sometimes sit around for hours reminiscing about years past and sharing stories about our experiences until tears are rolling down our faces. Some of the tears are sad, but mostly they are happy tears.

Alpine skiing is unique because every week we train together with great athletes and coaches from around the Lower Mainland, and we are not divided by region. We are like a family on the mountain, working together to help each other improve to the best of our abilities. I have had the pleasure of coaching a lot of great athletes over the years. The longest-standing athlete I have had the pleasure of coaching is Lori Urban. We have had 28 great years together and so many fabulous ski days. She is a true friend.

What is your favourite thing about being involved with SOBC?

The athletes of course – they give me so much joy, and just being around them it is infectious. The other great thing about being involved with SOBC is I’ve got to see the country. I have been to a lot of great cities across this country for National Games and training camps that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

What would you like others to know about SOBC – Coquitlam?

If you’re thinking about getting involved with SOBC in a coaching or volunteering role, just try it; you will never regret it. I guarantee you will be back month after month and year after year. Working with these great athletes and coaches will bring a smile to your face each and every day you see them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank SOBC – Coquitlam and SOBC for 28 great years. I met my wife through Special Olympics and we are caregivers to two Special Olympics athletes. Special Olympics has had a huge role in who I am today. I am also very excited to have been chosen as an alpine skiing coach for Team Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria in March.

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