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Special Olympian Competes At National Event

It’s likely every athlete’s dream to go to the Olympics. There’s the chance to experience new places, to compete against other top-rated athletes in your sport, and to do your very best.

That dream has come true for Josh, an athlete with Special Olympics, who recently returned from national competitions in Calgary. Josh has been playing hockey for 13 years and has competed at the national level twice now. He also plays softball with Special Olympics, and he enjoys soccer, and track and field, which means he’s busy with sports almost year-round.

“I really like it,” Josh says.

Josh In His Mission Blazers Hockey Jersey
Josh proudly sports his Mission Blazers jersey

Josh is usually a defenceman but in Calgary he played either left wing or forward. The tournament was very busy with his team, The Mission Blazers, arriving on a Thursday and playing several games through to Sunday.

“We basically got up in the morning, took the special bus from our hotel to the hockey rink, and were there all day,” Josh explains.

He said competition was pretty fierce and sometimes tempers got out of control. Josh feels that it’s important as an athlete to regulate your emotions.

“If I feel my temper going up, I breathe in and out to stay calm,” Josh says.

Josh And Dan Resized
Josh gives the thumbs up with Dan, a Life Skills Worker with Communitas

Josh also participates in the Community Living Program (CLP) at Communitas. Dan Boschmann is a Life Skills Worker with CLP and has been supporting Josh since May of 2023. Dan says that since the first day that they spent time together, it was clear that Josh is a cautious person but he doesn’t let that stop him from stepping out of his comfort zone.

“Josh recognizes his feelings and chooses to be brave,” Dan says. “He pushes himself and it’s an absolute joy to watch him confront his fears and learn new things.”

Recently, Josh and Dan have spent time together learning basic cooking skills. After getting the fundamentals down, they’ve tackled some yummy recipes like Macaroni and Cheese or Hamburger Helper.

“I like cooking,” Josh says.

In his role, it is important to Dan to really understand the person he serves, to find the connections that will help him in the process of teaching a new skill. Dan and Josh share two hobbies: sports and a specific trading card game.

“Being able to engage in something we both enjoy can really change the way learning happens,” Dan says. “One-on-one life skills learning is a shared experience – we learn together and sometimes we fail together and that’s okay! We both get to learn from these experiences and this is probably my favourite part of what I do.”

Josh In Action Cropped
Josh (in the blue jersey) loves the action in hockey

Josh also enjoys the fact that he and Dan share common interests. He recognizes a connection between sports and the trading card game. Both require the ability to think strategically.

“The card game is all about preparing a strategy and it’s the same with hockey,” he explains. “You have to have a strategy before you go into the rink or else your game will fall apart.”

When Josh isn’t playing hockey, softball, or card games, he’s likely at work. He’s been in the customer service department at Winners/Homesense for seven years.

“I like my job,” he says. “And they really like me there, too.”

Mission Blazers Coming Into The Arena
The Mission Blazers getting ready to hit the floor

As he reflects on his experience at the nationals in Calgary, Josh is proud of his team’s fourth place finish. He is already is looking forward to next year’s Summer Games in Prince George and the nationals in Calgary again in 2026. He knows he and his teammates have to work hard because only the first place teams go to the nationals. And down the road, he’s got other big dreams.

“A goal of mine is to go to the Special Olympic Worlds and compete in an individual sport,” he says.

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