Coach Bob Walda: It Couldn’t Be Done Without… Volunteers
November 22nd, 2021
Coach Bob Walda is no stranger to our athletes here at Turnstone. For the last 10 years, Bob has served as a volunteer coach training Turnstone athletes and watching them grow, succeed and discover new possibilities every day.
“At first, I didn’t think I was the right person to coach,” said Bob, “but I kept coming back to visit and I am still here.”
During his first visit, he met Turnstone’s Sports Coordinator and watched the varsity and prep wheelchair basketball team play. When asked if he was interested in coaching, Bob was unsure. Despite his initial hesitancy to coach, he soon realized that the Turnstone community was where he needed to be. Bob had previously trained New Haven’s basketball, track, and cross country athletes, but found a unique opportunity at Turnstone that provided him personal clarity and a new perspective on athletics.
During his time coaching at Turnstone, Bob has rediscovered a passion for teaching young athletes. Their spirit for fun, competitive edge and drive to learn motivate Bob as a coach to push them to reach their highest potential. Bob greatly values the coach-athlete relationships he has developed over the years. In fact, for him, the biggest reward for the time and talent he gives is to watch the young athletes he trains grow and learn.
“When I think about Turnstone, I think about what happens here—there’s a lot that happens here—but it gives these kids confidence and the discipline to be involved in their sports and do well in school. Being around it makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.”
Bob knows what it is like to actively create possibilities. He watched Turnstone expand with the addition of the Plassman Athletic Center in 2015. He was also a key player in the efforts to integrate Turnstone and Blackhawk Christian’s track and field programs. Because of Bob and his advocacy on behalf of adaptive sport athletes, these two teams have been able to practice and compete together and school sports programs all over the community have started providing more opportunities for adaptive athletes.
From teaching young athletes how to make their first basket and witnessing track stars hit their marks perfectly to winning a Team of the Week title, Bob has seen a lot of wins and successes as a Turnstone volunteer coach. “These athletes are here to win and they work so hard. “Once it’s game time, they put on their game face and they play to win,” says Coach Bob.
As a volunteer, Bob has found every moment spent at Turnstone to be special and it has made a lasting impact on his life.
“They make me smile so often because they love to have fun and they work so hard,” he said. “The parents and athletes have taught me more than I could ever teach them. I’ve been here for a long time and don’t have any plans to quit coaching any time soon.
We couldn’t do it without volunteers like Bob whose time and talents create the very foundation of empowerment that changes the lives of adaptive sport athletes and every person who trusts Turnstone with their quality of life.