2016 SOILL Outstanding Coach of the Year

Jennifer Hitt of Edwardsville has been named the 2016 Special Olympics Illinois’ Outstanding Coach of the Year Award. She will be honored at a reception June 10 before the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremony at Illinois State University in Normal.

The Outstanding Coach Award recognizes the coach who best demonstrates the true ideals of the coaching profession, who leads by example and expects athletes to set and strive to reach goals. As a coach of Special Olympics Illinois athletes, he or she must demonstrate both technical skills and personal commitment to the physical, social and psychological well-being of the athletes.

Hitt_Jennifer_IL_Gymnastics-RhythmicJennifer Hitt has been involved with Special Olympics Illinois as a coach and instrumental member of the gymnastics program for more than 16 years. In addition to her career as a coach, Jennifer has been a volunteer, certified training school clinician, a key event management volunteer and a Team Illinois and Team USA coach.

Jennifer’s dedication to Special Olympics has changed lives as she is skilled in identifying her athletes’ strengths and weaknesses. She has created individual practice plans and skill progressions to provide the highest quality instruction in order to determine what each athlete needs in order to learn and perform their best.

Jennifer initiated special needs gymnastics classes at the World Class Gymnastics Center in Belleville in 1998 and formed a Special Olympics team within the next year. She has positioned her gymnastics program to be based upon inclusion. The young members who train at World Class Gymnastics Center have grown up with her Special Olympics team and have welcomed athletes as their friends and training partners. Jennifer has set the bar for acceptance, comradery and teamwork.

All of the roles that Jennifer has so willingly taken on exemplify why she is so deserving of the Outstanding Coach of the Year Award. She has gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of her athletes as she continues to encourage acceptance and teamwork.

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 19 sports for more than 22,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 20,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills, and encourage family and community support. If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering, or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit our website at www.soill.org.