Alum sets high bar for special kids

High school physical education and Special Olympics coach Tracie McKnight  ’05 sent us news of life since OSU and her passion working with young athletes of all abilities.

“Because of IMPACT I am now very involved with our local Special Olympics program and coaching Special Olympics soccer, basketball, softball, and bocce,” wrote Tracie McKnight in an alumni email update. Tracie is teaching physical education, health and unified physical education at Sutherlin High School in southern Oregon.  She’s also the local program coordinator and youth sports coordinator for Special Olympics in Douglas County.

Tracie says what she enjoys most about working with special needs kids is “pushing them to do their best and watching their amazing improvements.  I expect a lot from my students/athletes and they never fail to amaze me!  I am a firm believer that students with disabilities are just as capable to learn skills, rules, strategies of the game and I teach/coach them that way.”

She received her early training working three years with the college’s IMPACT program for kids with special needs, one year as program leader while she earned her Master’s in Physical Education Teacher Education.  She credits professors Barb Cusimano and Hans Van der Mars “who taught me so much and really motivated all their students to be the best teacher they can be.  I also owe a great big thank you to Jeff McCubbin who encouraged me to apply to the graduate program for physical education and earn an endorsement in Adapted PE.”   She adds “The graduating Masters of Physical Education Teacher Education 2005 was a GREAT class.  A lot of friendships!  My favorite memories would be our very competitive rugby games and learning how to swim underwater without plugging my nose!  This was the best team of girls I have every played with.  Rugby is now my favorite unit to teach my students at Sutherlin High School.

“I loved OSU!” says Tracie.  “My favorite thing about Corvallis is that so many people are active there; walking or biking places.  I enjoyed biking and running on the many trails that surround Corvallis.

Tracie and her husband Todd, who works for the Oregon Department of Transportation at the DMV, are the proud parents of one-year-old daughter Lexie.  They all love to spend time outside hiking, biking and Lexie hangs back with their chocolate lab Rocky while mom and dad go skiing and snowmobiling.

We’d love to hear from all of our fantastic alumni!  Send us news of your life since OSU.

  • Marty Gary

    I am the SHS Principal who was fortunate enough to hire Tracie. Her work here has changed the culture of our school. It isn’t at all uncommon for me to see regular ed kids and special education students socializing, eating at the same lunch table, etc.

    Tracie is an outstanding educator!

  • Patti Knight

    I am the mother of an SHS student with a disability. I feel so fortunate to have Tracie at our school. She has started the Partners Club and Project Unify which are students with and without disabilities working together. She has promoted the r-word campaign and made disabilities week a fun time for all. I find that not only are the students and staff accepting and kind, but also the entire community. Tracie has made a difference in my sons life and I can’t thank her enough.