Rudolph Goines has been a part of Special Olympics for 21 years, yet his enthusiasm for the competition hasn't changed one bit.
"It's wholesome," he said. "These kids are out there giving 200 percent.
"You see these kids fall into the finish line because they'd die to win. I would go watch even if I weren't coaching."
Goines has seven athletes, ages 16 to 20, participating in 25 track and field events at the Maryland Special Olympics Summer Games today and tomorrow at Towson State.
With 1,300 athletes, it is the largest of the state's five Special Olympics events. Goines' teams are among the top finishers each year. Last year, the group took the state title in the 4 x 100 relay. In April, the team finished fourth among 23 teams in Special Olympics events at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
"To me, when they succeed, I succeed," said Goines, a former runner at City College.
Goines has developed a knack for finding talented athletes. He pointed out Willie Brown, one of the seven participating at Towson, as an example. Brown recently ran the 100 meters in 13 seconds and the 50 in 6.3 seconds. "I know some world-class people who would like some of those times," Goines said.
During the year, Goines works with 40 athletes and enters them in area events. He cut the team down to seven for the Summer Games after the City Games in May, taking the athletes with the best times and most gold medals.
"Usually the ones with the gold medals will also get gold medals at state. You can almost bet on it," said Goines, who has taught health and physical education at Venable Senior High School for 17 years.
Goines had only 10 days to prepare the team for the state events. His teaching duties limit the amount of time he can spend training the team at City College.
While he gets pleasure from his team's success, Goines is as determined to help its members build confidence.
"He lets you know that winning isn't everything," said Aaron Powell, 18.