Son inspires coach to get involved

by Scott Schleisman

Men’s basketball coach Bruce Wilson became involved with the Heartland Area Education Agency 11 and the Very Special Arts program when his son Connor was born. Connor was born with Down syndrome.

“In October of 1990, I went and told Coach [Bob] Nutgrass that I wanted to teach the special needs classes,” Wilson said. “His birth opened my eyes to a whole new side of athletic competitions. His birth showed me that it is too easy to focus on just one aspect in life. Balance is needed.”

This life change allowed Wilson to see new opportunities, such as the Special Olympics.

“Whenever I’m not coaching or teaching, I’m busy with the Special Olympics,” Wilson said.

The city of Ames will be hosting the 2006 National Special Olympics. Wilson has been involved as the national organizer for the basketball competition at the games.

Connor is active with his Very Special Arts dance-troop and enjoys basketball, golf, cycling, bowling and track and field. Connor is also busy coming to home Storm basketball games. He has also traveled with the team to its tournaments during winter break.

“He loves being around the guys on the team,” Wilson said.

Robin Olberding, consultant and adapted physical education specialist for the Heartland AEA, said Wilson is always there – not just for Connor, but for the program as a whole.

“Bruce is a very giving man and I don’t think that there’s anything he would not do or provide for our students,” Olberding said.