Portland coach helps athletes with autism

Portland coach helps athletes with autism

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by Michael Berk

kgw.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 6:27 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 25 at 1:14 PM

PORTLAND -- The sun couldn't be more brilliant while radiating off the green field at Lewis & Clark College.

Days like this don't come around very often in late February on this campus. Ryan Lockard is living his dream.

"It's not even work, I get to be outside on this beautiful campus and work with kids," said Ryan, who owns the Portland based Specialty Athletic Training.

It was on this field in 2007, when Ryan's life changed drastically. He tore his knee while playing college football for the Pioneers. And it had happened at a somewhat inopportune time during his college career.

"I had two credits remaining to graduate, I left myself two credits short, and that was the year I had an independent study," he said. That was when everything really changed. "(The study) opened my eyes to autism."

Ryan, who also serves as an assistant coach for the Pioneer football team, worked on and off with children who are living with autism, and in the summer of 2012 he opened his business, which is run on the Lewis & Clark campus.

"I pay them a little rent for the facilities, so it works out great," he said.

On this day, he is working with 13-year old Chris, who like many of Ryan's roughly 20 clients, needed sports to build, not only their physical fitness level, but something much more important.

"Many of these kids are bullied in high school or middle school," Ryan said, "and their self esteem isn't really high."

They come see Ryan, and work with him and his staff trainer at least once per week.

As we know, bullying can leave terrible emotional scars. Like any scar, it's a reminder of something, which had to be overcome. The scar on Ryan's knee is simply a remnant of a minor setback, and the life he's stitched together ever since.

"I always wanted to get into special education in the classroom. So this really kind of changed the course of that," he said.

Now Ryan is changing the lives of those living with autism. One child at a time.

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