Teresa Scobee has a passion for volleyball, but even more so, has a passion for bringing people together.
The Ahwatukee Foothills resident has been instrumental in growing volleyball in Special Olympics Arizona and through the program, Unified Sports.
Athletes with intellectual disabilities are paired with partners without disabilities to play and compete in events around Arizona and beyond.
"I am using my passion to move the sport forward," Scobee said. "It's about connecting the community. Special Olympics is my middle name."
She is succeeding, to say the least. What has grown from one team three years ago has exploded. At the most recent Special Olympics Summer Games, which took place April 28-30, Scobee had seven teams competing. She attributes that to the dedication of the volunteers and athletes.
"What's so cool is this circle of people who are involved, it's becoming bigger and bigger," Scobee said. "I meet people, dream the dream and connect the dots with people and what they are available to do."
She started her journey into coaching volleyball when her son started playing at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.
Since then she has 11 years of community volleyball coaching under her belt and has seen the experience come full-circle.
"Some of the people I coached when they were younger, I recruited and now help me coach," Scobee said. "But volleyball is just kind of my cover story. I grow the concept of community through volleyball."
She has a saying: "I start with a little ‘me' and flip it to make a ‘we.'" And that is just what she is doing for the local kids and volunteers who are interested in making a difference in someone's life. There may not have been volleyball for Special Olympics Arizona had it not been for Scobee. There was no volleyball when she became grassroots director three years ago.
"I went to the organization, asked them about it and they said, ‘Hey, go for it, bring it back to summer games,'" Scobee said.
The program started off with one team, which practiced at Desert Vista High School.
They attracted attention by competing in the event and hosting a clinic for interested athletes. The next year, participation doubled.
"It's about passion, patience and perseverance," Scobee said.
She hopes in the near future to begin a non-profit organization to proliferate the interest in Arizona.
"I could be something else with my educational background, but this is what I want to do, it's my passion," Scobee said. "But it would be nice if I could figure out how to get paid doing it."
Her teams will be competing at the end of May in Dallas as part of the Unified Sports Volleyball National Championship.
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