2017 Spirit of Special Olympics Coach of the Year
Special Olympics Indiana is pleased to announce that Juanita Garten Eacret, from Benton County, is our 2017 Spirit of Special Olympics Coach of the Year.
Juanita has served as Benton County Coordinator since 1982, and over the course of last 35 years has served as head coach for many sports at one time or another. During her coaching career, Juanita has coached countless athletes in bowling, gymnastics, swimming, track & field, and powerlifting.
A special education teacher in the Benton Community School Corporation, Juanita has dedicated her life to caring for and supporting people with intellectual disabilities, both on and off the playing field. She is passionate about ensuring that her students and athletes are afforded the same opportunities as others to experience the life-changing power of sports, and is dedicated to helping them develop physical and mental skills while instilling in them the value of health and fitness, work ethic, teamwork, friendship, responsibility, courage, and determination.
As a coach, she is a master of both motivation and education, breaking down complex skills into simpler tasks and encouraging individuals to learn and progress at their own pace. She has also shown a tremendous ability to adjust to different personalities and skill levels, and to find a way to connect with each and every athlete in a way that makes them feel like they belong. Above all, Juanita encourages her athletes to compete to the best of their ability and to constantly seek improvement.
As an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and an ambassador for the Special Olympics movement, Juanita has made a lasting impression in her community. Through her unwavering commitment and longevity in the program, she has passed on her passion for Special Olympics to dozens of volunteers and coaches who have been inspired to join the cause. Among the people she has inspired most are her own children, both of whom have also been involved in Special Olympics for their entire lives.
“In 35 years, we only remember our mother missing parts of two days of any Special Olympics event—and those were the two days when we graduated high school,” they said. “By observing her commitment, compassion, and dedication when we were young and then having the opportunity to participate (in Special Olympics) as coaches, we learned from the best about the most important things in life.”