Special Olympics Coach and Athlete: A Father’s Day Story
On Monday nights, 24-year-old Paige Norton is at baseball. On Tuesdays, it’s strength and conditioning training, on Wednesday it’s soccer, followed by swimming, track and field, and golf to round off the week. And that’s just for the summer. In the winter, the Special Olympics medalist is dominating the rink in speed skating.
It’s a busy schedule for dad, Tom Norton, who by day, works in Major Crime for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and in the evenings and weekends, volunteers his time as a Special Olympics coach.
Together the father-daughter duo are an unstoppable force, having both brought home numerous accolades. The most distinguished of them all was Paige’s recognition as Special Olympics Canada’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2017 and Tom’s award as Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year in 2015.
It’s the cream of the crop for Paige, who has a sea of medals and trophies under her name. “Right now, my achievements are doing good. Working hard, being strong, strong like Wonder Woman.”
Special Olympics, a global movement offering sports training to adults and children with intellectual disabilities, has seen big life changes for those who participate.
“It really does have remarkable and monumental changes with many athletes right across the world… really improving the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and looking to see that they’re going to increase their ability to live and live well, and live with confidence.”
“It’s more than just sport itself, but it is about life and being inclusive and keeping your eyes wide open.”
When Tom and wife Donna welcomed Paige, their third child into the world, they had no idea she would have Down Syndrome. “That came as a bit of a surprise, lasted about 30 seconds, I think we recognized that things could be certainly worse, and under the circumstances we were now blessed with a daughter that was ultimately going to be one of those children that we’re going to spend a lot of time with.”
It was because of Paige, that Tom was introduced to the world of Special Olympics coaching, and something that gave Tom an avenue to share his love for track and field. When Paige expressed an interest in track, it was an opportunity for father and daughter to bond over a common sport.
“It did bring a tear to my eye, because our two other boys went on to other sports, and now we have Paige who’s taking part in track, and that’s going to be my opportunity. That was the big driver to be able to say, ‘I can now help her along the way in something more specific to her.’”
It’s a bonus for Paige to have her dad share in the same interests. “My dad is actually the best coach… I’ve been training with him and he’s been helping me also… for track he’s been there with me, and I just like it that way.”
“He’s actually a perfect dad that I have.”
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