For 20 years, Ginny McCoy has been helping special needs youth and adults achieve victories on the tennis court that help build confidence off the court. As the Special Olympics tennis head coach in her Virginia Beach, VA community, this dedicated volunteer and coach has grown membership in her organization from five to 33 athletes through her hard work and recruitment.
Her passion for tennis runs deep, going as far back as high school, though Ginny didn’t pick up a racquet again after that until her early-30s. She says tennis helped her cope with family issues as she advanced further into adulthood.
Ginny would later meet her future husband on a tennis court. Her spouse has been involved in Special Olympics for many years, and for Ginny, volunteering with this extraordinary group became an activity they could look forward to doing together.
Ginny coaches, trains and mentors children and adult athletes, helping them experience the joy of competition and sharing their gift with their families and other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
“Each one of these athletes we consider to be our children,” says Ginny of the strong bonds she has formed with her pupils. “For their parents to trust us, they are our family. That’s why we’re doing this.”
Giving three dozen athletes the support they need to become tennis aces requires a team effort. Ginny recruited more than 50 volunteers to pair with her Special Olympics athletes for a special competition modeled after a professional-style tennis match. And the success of her local efforts carried Ginny to the 2014 USA Games as the head tennis coach representing the Commonwealth of Virginia, where a handful of her pupils competed. Her involvement as a Special Olympics coach has also taken her abroad, including going to Ireland for a tennis event.
Even with many other options for competitive sports available – track, swimming, bowling, baseball – parents keep bringing their children back to Ginny because they see her commitment. Off the court, Ginny has facilitated speaking opportunities for her athletes to share their stories and motivate others. There’s always something she can offer as a coach.
In her volunteer and career work, Ginny’s success in leading others comes naturally. A civilian employee in the Department of Defense, she is recognized as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt e and is routinely sought for process improvement advice.
Adorning her desk at the office is a special gift that has more significance to Ginny than any national award will ever receive. She describes it as a handwritten certificate of appreciation, given to her by one of her tennis athletes.
“I believed I was out there helping others,” Ginny explains. “But this experience has enriched my life more than I could have imagined. Pick something you’re truly passionate about. Find an opportunity to serve and your passion will grow even more.”