UT Martin faculty member to coach in Special Olympics USA Games

Dr. Clinton Smith, associate professor of special education at UT Martin, has been involved with Special Olympics since his years as an undergraduate at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He started as a volunteer, eventually moved to coaching in the early 90s, and in 2014 he became the Area 7 director for Special Olympics of Upper West Tennessee. This week Smith will make his fourth trip to the Special Olympics USA Games as Team Tennessee’s head track and field coach.

Accompanying Smith is Special Olympian Garrett Dinning, an incoming Westview High School junior and son of UT Martin graduate, Jill Dinning. The pair, along with Dinning’s family, depart for Orlando, Florida on June 4 from Smyrna, Tennessee. The flight is provided free through the Special Olympics Airlift program.

The games run June 5-12, and the opening ceremonies will be broadcast live on ABC from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Walt Disney World Resort on Sunday, June 5, at 11 a.m.

“We’re excited that folks will get to see all the spectacle of the opening ceremonies,” said Smith.

“We’re excited that folks will get to see all the spectacle of the opening ceremonies,” said Smith. “Then Monday, we start competition for preliminaries. Garrett’s doing the mini-javelin, the running long jump and the 4×100 meter relay.”

In addition to Dinning, who is the youngest athlete out of 133 athletes on Team Tennessee, Smith has seven other athletes who will compete in various track and field competitions. Other events for Team Tennessee include bowling, volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, aquatics and powerlifting.

Although it’s an honor for Smith to coach, he’s quick to point out that this week is about the athletes.

“It really does help the athletes, and I try to sit back and let them do their thing, because it’s their week. I just help get them to where they should be.”

“It really does help the athletes, and I try to sit back and let them do their thing, because it’s their week. I just help get them to where they should be.”

For more information about the trip or the UT Martin special education program, contact Smith at csmit279@utm.edu, or visit 2022specialolympicsusagames.org.

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