White County Special Education Teacher Nancy Benningfield has been selected as the Special Olympics USA Alpine Skiing Coach for the 2022 World Winter Games.
Benningfield said going to Russia to coach is the biggest moment in her career, she has attended every state event in the last 15 years. Benningfield said everything she does is about the kids and showing their skills are the real deal.
“People think we just put them up there and they don’t really ski, they ski,” Benningfield said. “We teach them from beginning to advanced and they can ski and they come through those slalom gates and they get to the end and they’re hunkered down getting through the gate.”
Benningfield said she will be the rookie on her team for the 2022 games, and has three athletes assigned to her from Nashville, Alaska and Pennsylvania. Benningfield said she thought this would be her last chance at being selected going into her interview, after applying three previous times.
“He said we just need people who are going to take care of these athletes,” Benningfield said. “I said look, I’m not a black diamond skier, I like to ski and I like the atmosphere but I can be the one that does meds. I can be the one that makes sure they get in on time, I can be that person. He said, ‘I’ve got plenty of black diamond skiers, I need somebody like you.”
Benningfield said she started her involvement in the special olympics before she graduated college. She said with this national selection, it puts her at the top of her career.
“When I retire in five, six years, whenever I do from teaching,” Benningfield said. “I hope to keep doing Special Olympics. This will be the time in my life that I just will never forget. Just being selected was such an honor, but actually getting on that plane with all Team USA Special Olympics teams. It’s just going to be fantastic, I can’t hardly wait.”
The 2022 World Winter Games are in February and will be held in Kazan, Russia. Benningfield has been a coach at three USA Summer Games.