The Newnan Times-Herald

Education

Davis, Shaner recognized by Georgia Special Olympics


  • By Rebecca Leftwich
  • |
  • Dec. 04, 2016 - 7:21 AM

Davis, Shaner recognized by Georgia Special Olympics

Submitted photo

Colleen Davis was named Georgia Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year. Her swim coach, Jenna Shaner, received the Georgia Special Olympics award for Coach of the Year.

Two members of Coweta County’s Special Olympics organization were recognized by the Georgia Special Olympics recently.

Colleen Davis was named the state’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year and Jenna Shaner was named Outstanding Coach of the Year.

Davis, a student at East Coweta High School, was named manager of her high school junior varsity cheer squad last year and was selected for the team this year.

East Coweta cheerleading coach Megan Douglas, who recommended Davis for the Special Olympics Award, wrote about the athlete’s positive attitude and hard work in cheer as well and called her “a wonderful ambassador for East Coweta High School.”

“She not only was the manager of the cheer squads, she was also their biggest cheerleader,” Douglas wrote. “She would cheer for their jumps, tumbling passes, and stunts. My fellow coaches and I were blessed with great, accepting and kind cheerleaders who embraced Colleen and always lit up when she was at an event. She is outgoing, kind and funny. All of the students know and love her.”

Davis began participating in Coweta County Special Olympics in elementary school. She has trained and competed in bowling, aquatics, basketball, softball, bocce, cheerleading, track and field, equestrian, cycling and gymnastics.

Last year, she competed at State Winter Games in artistic gymnastics and the State Summer Games in aquatics, swimming in freestyle and breaststroke events and as a member of the unified relay team. She has competed at the GA Tech SO Aquatics Invitational and several competition cheerleading events.

Outside of Special Olympics, Colleen participates in school sports and activities. She was a member of her middle school cheer squad, was a manager for the East Coweta High School team last season and currently is a member of the junior varsity cheer squad.

East Coweta cheerleading coach Megan Douglas, who recommended Davis for the Special Olympics Award, wrote about the athlete’s positive attitude and hard work in cheer as well and called her “a wonderful ambassador for East Coweta High School.”

“She not only was the manager of the cheer squads, she was also their biggest cheerleader,” Douglas wrote. “She would cheer for their jumps, tumbling passes, and stunts. My fellow coaches and I were blessed with great, accepting and kind cheerleaders who embraced Colleen and always lit up when she was at an event. She is outgoing, kind and funny. All of the students know and love her.”

Kelly Abercrombie, long-time coordinator of Coweta County Special Olympics, said Davis is an ideal representative of the organization.

“Colleen epitomizes the spirit of a true winner by her willingness to help others and give her best, while displaying outstanding courage and sportsmanship,” Abercrombie wrote in a letter of recommendation. “As one of her many coaches I can truly say that Colleen Davis loves Special Olympics and all that it entails.”

Shaner, a special education teacher at Arnall Middle School, coaches the Coweta Special Olympics swim team. In addition to being a wife, mother, teacher and coach, Shaner is an accomplished runner, competing in road races and half-marathons.

One of Shaner’s staunchest supporters is Davis’ father, Jeff, who says his daughter has thrived under Shaner’s tutelage.

“When my daughter started working with Jenna, she was barely able to swim one lap across the pool,” he wrote in a letter recommending Shaner for the award. “Now, 10 years later, she has won multiple gold medals in three different events. I have seen Jenna do this with all the athletes she trains. She is transforming these kids’ abilities and giving them the confidence to know they can do things they never thought was possible.”

Jeff Davis serves as a chaperone and adult helper for the swim team, which trains every Saturday beginning in March and ends its season with a competition at Emory University in May.

“It takes a special kind of person to give so much of their time, and to be such a huge supporter to these kids,” he wrote. “As a parent, I appreciate all she does on a personal level, because we know that if it were not for people like Jenna, our kids may not have the opportunity to experience the fun and satisfaction of competing in the Special Olympics.”

Volunteer opportunities abound within the Coweta County Special Olympics organization, which is currently seeking support for its Area 6 Bowling Tournament at Junction Lanes Bowling Center on Friday, Dec. 2.

Scorekeepers, lane supervisors and award presenters are needed. Volunteers should check in by 8:45 a.m. and plan to finish around 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Bo Ray at charles.ray@cowetaschools.net .