Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

2012 Recipient: Walde Libera

Walde Libera leads the largest Special Olympics BC speed skating program in the province with great diligence, thoroughness, attentiveness, and techniques ideal for helping his athletes develop. Underlying that sound skill set is his caring and compassionate nature, which creates a powerful environment for growth in the SOBC – Coquitlam speed skating program and made him a deserving winner of the 2012 SOBC Howard Carter Award.

“He deeply cares for each and every athlete, and makes decisions based on this. He has won the respect and admiration of his fellow coaches, parents, caregivers, and athletes,” Walde’s nominators wrote.

“Walde has encouraged the overall development of the athletes in many, many ways, from encouraging and arranging speed skates for everyone, to encouraging and modelling good nutrition, to giving positive and encouraging comments to the athletes at practice and emphasizing the positive to shot the athletes ‘they can.’ Once the athlete realizes this … they are unstoppable. They know they can and they do. This is the greatest gift to give to others, and Walde does this so naturally at each and every practice."

(Above right: Walde receiving his award from SOBC – Coquitlam Local Coordinator Sheila Hogan.)

Walde joined SOBC – Coquitlam 12 years ago as a program volunteer for speed skating, and right away showed his value, jumping in with invaluable on-ice knowledge and starting to work directly with athletes and attend coaching courses.

Now the Head Coach for the busy SOBC – Coquitlam speed skating program, Walde’s attention to detail shines through in examples such as his crafting of quality drills and progressions to help the athletes build their abilities to pass competitors mid-race. It’s obvious in his willingness to go above and beyond the time on ice, from his implementation of a dryland training program on another night of the week to his work to secure extra ice time with a generic club. Those initiatives have resulted in a strong, positive program for the athletes with three quality practices per week instead of just one.

Walde also stepped up to continue dryland training with some of the athletes outside of the speed skating season, which is particularly helpful for SOBC – Coquitlam skater Sean Casey, who is gearing up to compete with Special Olympics Team Canada in the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Walde served as a Team BC coach at the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, and seven of the nine speed skaters on Team BC 2012 were from the SOBC – Coquitlam program – including Walde’s son Nicholas, winner of two silver medals at the National Games! Of the seven SOBC – Coquitlam athletes who qualified to race in the National Games, each of them achieved personal bests (as well as many medals).

“The athletes were passing in races, skating confidently, were focused, and they succeeded. They felt so confident. This came from preparation, i.e. three quality practices a week in a positive, upbeat environment,” Walde’s nominators wrote.

Special Olympics BC salutes Walde and Rob O’Shea of SOBC – Campbell River, the second nominee for the 2012 Howard Carter Award!