Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

Meet Coach Michelle Riches

25 October 2017

For Special Olympics BC – Penticton coach Michelle Riches, volunteering with SOBC is not only an inspiring experience, it is a great opportunity to spend time with her sisters.

Riches and her sister Fae Hodgins coach 5-pin bowling and bocce, and their sister Jeri-Lee Hodgins is an athlete who participates in both sports.

Before Riches got involved with SOBC, her sisters used to talk to her about their amazing experiences with Special Olympics. When Riches moved back to Penticton, she took the opportunity to sign up as a coach. Now, she says volunteering with Special Olympics has been even better than she imagined.

“I love seeing my sisters blossom and it warms my heart to see Jeri-Lee’s face light up with excitement when she does well and while cheering on her teammates!” Riches says. “Also, seeing how Fae interacts with each athlete is inspiring!”

Riches says her favourite thing about coaching with SOBC is working with the enthusiastic, hardworking athletes. She says SOBC – Penticton is currently in need of volunteers, and she hopes others will get involved and take part in a truly life-changing experience.

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

I started with SOBC – Penticton four years ago. I became involved because of my sisters. My sister Jeri-Lee had participated with Special Olympics as a 5-pin bowler and a bocce player for many years. My other sister Fae has been volunteering with Special Olympics for 27 years as the Head Coach for bowling. I lived away from Penticton for 32 years and when I returned I started to volunteer. Currently, I help my sister Fae coach 5-pin bowling and also volunteer with bocce. This season I will be starting something new as I will be helping with powerlifting.

What has been your most memorable Special Olympics experience?

I have had so many memorable experiences with Special Olympics. I can honestly say that every day I am involved with the athletes has been memorable. My most recent memorable experience was at the 2017 SOBC Summer Games. I was able to attend with the Alley Cats, a 5-pin bowling team from Kelowna. I enjoyed working with them for the few months prior to Provincial Games, and seeing them enjoy the experience was amazing. My sisters were also there with the SOBC – Penticton team and it was wonderful to experience it with them. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies where I saw all of the athletes in one place gave me chills and my heart was bursting with waves of love and enthusiasm.

What is your favourite thing about being involved with SOBC?

My favorite thing about being involved is of course the athletes. Seeing their enthusiasm for their sport, their camaraderie with each other, and their dedication to improvement is inspiring. Being able to spend time with my sisters is the icing on the cake.

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

SOBC – Penticton has an amazing group of people running the show. Right now though there is a need for Local Committee members. I would encourage more people to volunteer their time as they would not regret the life-changing experience of working with the athletes of SOBC – Penticton.

SOBC – Penticton coach Michelle Riches (left) with her sisters Jeri-Lee Hodgins (centre) and Fae Hodgins (right)

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