2017-07-14 / Family

Long overdue honors for ‘Coach Ed’

Saxey gets award from Special Olympics
By Jessica Waite


TAKE A BOW—Camarillo resident Ed Saxey, left, was presented with the Michael W. Harahan Award for outstanding adult volunteering by Special Olympics Southern California during a June 11 ceremony in Long Beach. He is joined by Ms. Woman California United States Athena Fleming and his wife, Lynn Saxey. 
Courtesy of the Saxey family TAKE A BOW—Camarillo resident Ed Saxey, left, was presented with the Michael W. Harahan Award for outstanding adult volunteering by Special Olympics Southern California during a June 11 ceremony in Long Beach. He is joined by Ms. Woman California United States Athena Fleming and his wife, Lynn Saxey. Courtesy of the Saxey family Edward Saxey II is a busy man.

For more than three decades, the 46-year Camarillo resident has coached soccer, basketball, track, T-ball and Special Olympics teams while working fulltime and raising four kids with his wife, Lynn.

It’s no wonder that after over 35 years of dedication, Coach Ed—as he’s known to many—received the Michael W. Harahan Award from Special Olympics Southern California during a June 11 ceremony in Long Beach. The award is for volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievement.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s very satisfying. It’s something that’s really necessary,” the 75-yearold said of volunteering.

Saxey’s involvement in the Special Olympics began in 1981 after his oldest son, Ned, who has Down syndrome, turned 3 and began participating in SO swimming and track. Saxey and his wife assisted with various events.

When Ned was 8, Saxey offered to coach various sports in the Camarillo area, including AYSO soccer and CYBA basketball, if the officials would allow Ned to play on teams with his younger brother, Tom. The officials accepted, and Ned participated in soccer, basketball and track. At that time those sports weren’t offered through the Special Olympics.

“By allowing Ned to participate in regular sports, it opened the opportunity for exposure for a lot of regular kids to someone with a disability,” Lynn Saxey said.

The Saxeys’ two older children, twin girls Charlene and Cheryl, joined 4-H as youngsters, and the boys joined as well. Edward Saxey supported 4-H for over a decade, developing leather crafting and sports programs for its members.

“We needed something that Ned could be a youth leader at, so we created a sports program for youth that weren’t necessarily disabled but were not athletic,” Saxey said.

“They needed to get a start from scratch, and Ned was pretty accomplished at soccer, basketball and T-ball at that time, so we incorporated those.”

Once Ned turned 18, Saxey began coaching soccer and basketball for the Special Olympics, where he has been the head coach of those sports for the past several years.

This year, the basketball team Saxey coaches, the Ventura County Sharks, competed in the Special Olympics Southern California summer games and brought home the gold.

Saxey said one of his biggest accomplishments as a coach was getting former Special Olympian Mike Dyer certified as a basketball coach.

“Special Olympics is more than just a sport. When his (Dyer’s) mom passed and then when his father passed, it was a big, big blow to him. Participation was a great comfort for him. It’s a great thing to see,” Saxey said.

His approach to coaching is what he calls a “youth sports model.”

“We work on the fundamentals. Everybody plays. I try to make it approximately even in the amount of time. Regardless of whether we win or lose, we emphasize sportsmanship and have a good time. To me, that’s what Special Olympics is all about,” he said.

In addition to his work as a coach, Saxey and his wife cofounded the Ventura County Down Syndrome Association, which is no longer in operation.

“The whole reason we got together in the first place was because the information available in the hospital or doctor’s office or library was not only outdated but in many cases was incorrect,” Saxey said.

Through the organization, the Saxeys, along with other parents of children with Down syndrome, provided information about the syndrome throughout Ventura County. They offered assistance to parents of newborns with Down syndrome.

The fruits of the Saxeys’ labor is evident to everyone around them.

“It’s coaches and volunteers like Ed and Lynn that really drive the Special Olympics program. I can do all I can to promote it and put it out there, but on the ground running is these volunteers that really embrace the Special Olympics,” said Tim Ballaret, senior manager of sports and programs for Special Olympics Southern California Ventura County region.

“This award is definitely well-deserving but doesn’t really go to show how much of an impact Ed and Lynn and many of our coaches have on these athletes,” Ballaret said.

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