Neile's Hometown Heroes: John Seals is a man sharing his field of dreams
Long before he began managing the fields for these athletes, John Seals had a dream
"I wanted to be a high school football coach, that's all I ever wanted to be," said Seals.
His journey began at Home of Hope in Vinita, Okla. The facility works with families dealing with disabilities and seals was the adaptive pe teacher. Part of that job included coaching Special Olympics.
"I found that our athletes were learning so many many skill doing games doing competitions that they had never gotten to do a child. And realize that at Home of Hope that I'm dealing mainly with adults," said Seals.
But after eight years, Seals left Home of Hope and eventually took over as the sports director of Special Olympics for Oklahoma.
"Next thing you know, I'm getting to fulfill the dream of being a coach for Special Olympics," said Seals.
Now he works year round to ensure these athletes get to fulfill their dreams too. And Seals says what participants learn on the field translates to life.
"Through playing sports and playing games, going to practice every day, getting a regimented practice training routine, that you see individuals become. I don't know, skills that they never had," said Seals.
His favorite thing may be the unified sports program where half the team members have disabilities and half don't. It's also where you'll find his daughter Sarah playing ball.
Seals say he loves seeing all the athletes love the sport.
"Sometimes I get more excited when I see the sheer competition. People get it wrong. It's not recreation. It is a competitive event," said Seals.
As Seals marks 12 years on the job, he says he wouldn't play it any other way.
"It all happened accidentally but I can't imagine being anywhere else," he said.
And just so you know, his kindness still extends far beyond the field. A couple with a son who lives at Home of Hope actually came to Seals years ago and asked if they could leave their son in his care if the couple should pass away.
He said yes. And to this day, Seals serves as their son's guardian and helps ensure all his needs are met as and that he is living a quality life.