Voice Magazine / Stories / 2015 Fall / Special Olympics
Julie Shaw

Special Olympics

University of La Verne coaches inspire athletes to reach greatness.

Duron Helps Lead Athletes to Victory

Yoland Duron with Fabiola Aceves
Tennis coach Yolanda Duron works with Fabiola Aceves in preparation for the Special Olympics World Games.

In the months leading up to the Special Olympics World Games, La Verne tennis coach Yolanda Duron helped train Fabiola Aceves, who eventually won the silver medals in tennis singles and doubles competitions.

Duron and Aceves connected through the local Special Olympics programs, in which La Verne student- Athletes are actively involved. The Area Director of Pomona Valley Special Olympics put the player and the coach in touch in February and the tandem started training in May.

In spite of scorching heat, Duron met with Aceves every week for three months to polish her game. Duron served up practice balls, shouted words of encouragement and gave technical pointers as she would to La Verne’s nationallyranked women’s tennis team.

“I like training with her because she teaches me a lot of things and maybe I will win a medal,” Aceves said of Duron before the Games. “But the most important thing is being a part of the World Games.”

Duron was a spectator at the Games and watched all but one of Aceves’ matches in person.

“It was overwhelming to remember where we started and to see how much she improved,” Duron said. “I am extremely proud of how she competed and I’m honored that I was able to coach her.”

Shaw named Outstanding Volunteer for Sports Division

When La Verne women’s basketball coach Julie Shaw heard that the Special Olympics was coming to Los Angeles, she knew immediately she wanted to volunteer.

She had been involved with Special Olympics locally and saw firsthand how sports could change lives. “I wanted to volunteer because the Special Olympics impacts lives in so many ways,” Shaw said. “It impacts the lives of not only the athletes, but also of families and volunteers.”

Shaw did not know where to start, but that changed when she ran into Larry Gholar, who managed Special Olympics basketball competitions. Shaw and Gholar were familiar acquaintances as Shaw had coached Gholar’s daughter when she was an assistant for the Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball team. When Gholar offered Shaw an opportunity to be a part of the Games, she pounced.

Shaw served as the Field of Play Supervisor for Basketball and was put in charge of coordinating 130 volunteers and making sure the tournament operated smoothly. The tournament ran so well that, at the conclusion of the Games, Shaw was named the Outstanding Volunteer for Sports Division.

An 11-year coaching veteran, Shaw got a fresh reminder of how much joy there was in basketball. “The French women’s team scored just one basket in an entire game but it was a pure joy and a win for them,” Shaw said.

And she said if there is one thing she would like to take back to her team, it was the Special Olympics athlete’s oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”