November 29, 2016
Clara Edwards is living proof of the age-old saying “Life can change in an instant.”
One afternoon in the early 1990s, Clara was driving around the neighborhood when she had an encounter that changed her life forever. She was passing the softball fields when she saw a man coaching athletes with intellectual disabilities all by himself.
“I thought ‘that’s ridiculous that he’s doing this alone’,” said Clara. “So I went on over and said I’d help him out.”
From that first encounter Clara was inspired. Little did she know that she would keep helping out for the next 25 years. She joined Special Olympics Texas as a coach and began coaching softball.
Now at the age of 88, she continues to coach with the same team, the Monahans delegation, which she joined in 1991. The self-proclaimed “softball freak” takes great joy in being able to teach others about the game, and the relationships she has built with the athletes keep her coming back.
“I love giving the athletes something to do,” said Clara.“Special Olympics gives them opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
At an age when most would be retired, Clara has no plans to slow down. She still has her job at West Texas State Bank,which she has held since moving to Monahans in 1948, and plans to keep coaching.
“It gives me something to do and makes me stay younger,” said Clara.
When asked what she would say to people considering volunteering for SOTX, Clara said, “You’d love it. I have four great volunteers that help me with everything and it’s a wonderful time.”
One of those volunteers is Valerie Smith. She has known Clara for most of her life and was even coached by her in softball when she was a child. Clara has always been a role model to Valerie, whose goal in life is to be able to keep up with her former coach!
"Clara is one of those people with lots of energy,” said Smith. “She treats the athletes like every other person. At first you might think she is being mean, but then you realize that she is just coaching them and making them better players.”
Clara’s love for the game and passion for helping others is infectious. She embodies the spirit of Special Olympics,which has led her to bringing out the best in her athletes and volunteers.