By Alex Cate
Clinton Smith’s office is covered with pictures of his athletes and their smiles. While other people display pictures of their children, Smith proudly flaunts the accomplishments of his Special Olympians for everyone to see.
Smith, an assistant professor of special education at UT Martin, has been a certified basketball and track and field coach with Special Olympics for more than 20 years.
“When an athlete wins a medal at an event, I can look in their eyes and tell they are proud of themselves,” he said. “I can see the confidence it instills in them, and I’m like a proud parent every time one of my athletes wins a medal.”
Smith attended the USA Special Olympics National Games as a coach in 2006 and 2010, with Team Tennessee basketball winning the gold medal in the highest division at the 2010 National Games. In June, he will return to the National Games as Team Tennessee’s head track and field coach in hopes of helping another group of Special Olympians achieve their dreams.
“I love working with people with disabilities,” Smith said. “Just to see them succeed at a sport or an activity is the most awesome feeling.”
Coaching isn’t his only involvement with Special Olympics. For three years, Smith participated in the organization’s “Over the Edge” fundraiser—repelling down the side of a 24-story bank building to help raise money.