Special Olympics honors local swim coach

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One resident of Plantsville will soon be honored with the Lew Perkins Coach Award by Special Olympics Connecticut for his dedication and commitment as a swim coach for SOCT for the last 28 years.

John (Jay) Dubinsky said he was humbled and unsuspecting of the award.

“This was definitely not something I expected,” said Dubinsky. “I’m thankful for this award, and I told our athletes that this was not something I was looking for. I just love being with this group, and it’s the team itself that gave me the opportunity to do this.”

Back in the 1990s, Dubinsky recalled working as a coach at the Wheeler YMCA when their athletics director asked for Special Olympics volunteers. He leapt at the chance, and he’s been involved ever since.

“This has been something I’ve really enjoyed over the years,” he said. “Swimming is a life skill that everyone should know. It keeps people safe. And, along the way, the athletes have become like family to me.”

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Dubinsky works with athletes from SOCT for six months at a time. They practice at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.

“A lot of the swimmers there, they keep going,” he said. “Some of them started a number of years ago and they just keep coming back.”

The coach explained that, for athletes involved in SOCT, sometimes the program is the only physical activity they get simply because the opportunities for them are limited.

“It means a lot to be to be able to help students learn new skills, and have fun at the same time,” said Dubinsky. “They are some of the most dedicated athletes I know.”

The swim coach shared two quotes that he often tells his athletes. The first is a quote by Albert Einstein. “Most people see what it is, and never see what can be.”

The second is, spoken by Christopher Robin in the classic novel, “Winnie the Pooh.” “Promise me you’ll always remember,” he said. “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.”

SOCT vice president of sports and local programs Marc Mercadante said Dubinsky truly shines as a coach.

“He has a wonderful way of inspiring and motivating the athletes on his team and providing them with the techniques, skills and encouragement they need to make great achievements in sports and in life,” said Mercadante. “Jay’s love of coaching is evident and he stands out as a caring, respected mentor and dear friend to our athletes. We are immensely grateful for Jay’s time, expertise and dedication to supporting our organization and the individuals it serves.”

Dubinsky, along with several others, will be presented with his award during the SOCT’s annual awards dinner on Thursday, March 26 at 6 p.m. at the Aqua Turf Club. Ticket sales benefit the SOCT’s “Inclusion Revolution.”

To purchase tickets or to sponsor the event, visit www.SOCT.org and click on the “Ways to Give” tab, or email specialolympicsct@soct.org or call (203) 230-1201.

The annual awards dinner is made possible through the generosity of the Bozzuto and Calvanese families.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at News@SouthingtonObserver.com.

Jay Dubinsky, third row far left, poses with his team of swimmers. The local coach will be honored by special Olympics Connecticut on March 26 as this year’s recipient of the Lew Perkins Coach Award. (Submitted)