It is rare to find a teenager with the time and attention for others. And it’s even more unusual when it’s a student athlete/ASB member giving to his special needs peers.
Last month, Matt Davis took home the gold … or at least his team did.
Davis is a team player, a quality he passes on to players in the S.N.A.P. football program, a part of the larger Special Needs Athletes & Peers Sports program. It enables participants to gain experience on the field playing flag football with experienced young players who coach and fill the quarterback position for them.
“The goal is to make sure that all the athletes have fun and feel a part of a team,” Davis explained. “I got involved with S.N.A.P. when I was 16 after being invited by a couple of my Canyon High football teammates, Coley Apsay and Kyle Webster.”
Earlier this year, Davis was again invited by a friend to become a part of the Special Olympics. Canyon High School graduate and former quarterback Miles Fallin asked him to help coach one of the basketball teams. But when the season was nearly over, there was something new pulled out of the playbook. Fallin performed a successful “handoff” to Davis — the entire team.
“Miles had to leave for college and he left me as the head coach,” Davis said. “However, I had two other assistant coaches in Don Zennie and Erik Fallin (Miles’ father) who have been involved in Special Olympics for over 20 years. I would not have been able to do it without them.”
Not to worry — the Santa Clarita Valley “Makos” were running on all cylinders. Davis, his coaches and their team came in first place at the Southern California Special Olympics in Long Beach, earning the gold medal.
“It was all due to the hard work the athletes put in,” Davis said. “We won all three games, but more importantly, everyone got to play and had a ton of fun doing it.”
The winning team was made up of 11 athletes: Michael Goodman, Glen Griffith, Max Parrish, Jason “Bulldog” Carreon, Kevin Ross, Jesse Corralejo, Jereth Suede, David Escobedo, Colbert Williams, Brian “Dallas” Dahl, and Eric McGhee. Both Jereth Suede and Colbert Williams had previously been a part of Davis’ S.N.A.P. program as well.
“As far as the future is concerned, I am hoping to be able to coach floor hockey in the upcoming winter,” said the 22-year-old. “Serving individuals with special needs is something that I truly enjoy and I am extremely blessed to have made friends with the athletes I’ve coached.”