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Engle Named 2023 Coach of the Year

Melody Engle has served the Special Olympics community for over 45 years

Coach Melody Engle of Area 27, Wilson and Trousdale Counties, was blown away to be named Special Olympics Tennessee’s 2023 Coach of the Year. “Ms. Mel,” as some of her athletes like to call her, has served as a mentor to the Special Olympics community for 45 years and counting. With all of the accomplishments she has brought to our community, her passion for Special Olympics Tennessee does not go unnoticed.

Engle’s involvement with Special Olympics Tennessee stems from her time at George Peabody College for Teachers in 1978. She, along with classmates, decided to get involved with the organization and what they were doing across campus. She knew that this was only the beginning of her time with the organization. After graduation, Engle started teaching in 1980 and knew she needed to continue to be involved with Special Olympics outside of the preschool classroom. In 1984, she found a way to become involved with the organization again and brought her students with her.

Six years of teaching and classroom involvement with Special Olympics later, Engle became the Secretary and Treasurer of Area 16, which housed multiple counties at the time. This is where “Coach Melody" was created as well. Engle worked with Track and Field, supporting events in the Murfreesboro area. She also saw the creation of Trousdale County Unified sports in 1996, including Soccer, Volleyball, Track and Field and Bowling. Skiing was also introduced as a sport during this time and she even learned a new sport.

Engle walks in with Wilson County at the 2023 State Summer Games Opening Ceremonies

Engle left the classroom in 2004 and became a Certified Vision Teacher in Wilson County. As a vision teacher, she did not have her own classroom and found difficulty in engaging athletes in sports throughout the school day. This led her to talk to the director, at the time, to determine whether or not it would be possible to hold practices outside of the school day. This was when community sports were formed in Wilson County. During this time, Engle had a friend who was a swimming coach for a local team. They paired together and created a swim team for athletes with intellectual disabilities between 2004 and 2005. This team is the one that Engle still runs and coaches today.

Melody Engle has made an impact on Area 27 and all of Special Olympics Tennessee during her time as a volunteer and coach. She notes that being involved with Special Olympics impacts her in a “feel good” way and is something that makes her happy every day.

Recently, at State Summer Games, Engle was awarded the 2023 Coach of the Year award from Special Olympics Tennessee. She was nominated for the award by Mary Lee Burkett, Wilson County Area Co-Director, whom she has worked closely with in the past.

“I nominated Melody because of all she’s done for Area 27 over the years, from coaching to being on our first management board, and doing director jobs without the title,” said Burkett. “She just always gives her all.”

When asking Engle what the title Coach of the Year means to her, she is filled with gratitude and honor to have received the award.

“I’m blessed and shocked that they nominated me,” she says. “I appreciate the honor and the thoughts, but if I could’ve given it to any other coach in the room, I would’ve. All of the people at Special Olympics are extremely wonderful people.”

Looking forward, Engle hopes to see involvement with Special Olympics continue to grow, especially out of the school systems. She is passionate about getting the community involved with organizations like Special Olympics Tennessee and believes in getting more people involved. She notes that a favorite saying of hers is “There are no off-seasons” — which she holds true with Special Olympics. The athletes are constantly training, so Engle believes we should be staying involved to support them.

Congratulations to Coach Melody Engle on achieving 2023 Coach of the Year! We are so thankful to have you in our community.

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