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Athletic Coaching Master's student supports community-based soccer for athletes with special needs

While many people pursue a career in athletics to enhance their own skills, some get involved to develop the skills of others. Raymond Kryzak, an Athletic Coaching Education master’s student at West Virginia University, spends his time outside of the classroom as a soccer coach in the Morgantown area. Originally from Charleston, W.Va., he chose to further his education with CPASS after accepting a business manager role with the TopSoccer program within Mountaineer United Soccer Club.

TopSoccer is a community-based training program for athletes with intellectual, emotional and or physical disabilities. Kryzak’s involvement includes coaching and teaching soccer to children with various disabilities in a safe, encouraging environment. “It is a way for them to get physical activity and the opportunity to play, which they deserve,” he said.

For his hard work and dedication, Kryzak received a TopSoccer “Buddy” award in recognition of volunteering his Sundays at MUSC to work with TopSoccer athletes. In addition, Kryzak has combined the TopSoccer program with Stepping Stones, a non-profit organization in Morgantown that provides year-round recreation for children and adults with disabilities.

Prior to the partnership, Stepping Stones only offered a soccer program in the fall. With the help of Kryzak and TopSoccer, their athletes can participate in the fall and spring with MUSC, allowing more physical activity and peer connections. Kryzak serves as a graduate assistant to supervise within adapted physical education practicum program within CPASS, where students with disabilities participate in various physical activities every Friday.

Kryzak credits Drs. Andrea Taliaferro and Kristen Dieffenbach as his mentors in CPASS. “Dr. T is inspirational because of her passion when working with kids with disabilities in the Friday program,” Kryzak said. “I admire Dieffenbach’s intelligence, as she has taught me quite a lot about the sport world and myself,” he adds.

Ultimately, Kryzak desires to help improve athletes. He advises students looking to get into athletic coaching to get experience and start now even if it means volunteering at first. “You will make contacts, develop different skills and learn of different career paths that may be available to you,” Kryzak said.

Kryzak urges students to become involved with MUSC to get coaching experience.

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