In His Own Words: An Interview with Lion Steve Rodenbeck

Steve Rodenbeck embodies the spirit of Special Olympics on and off the playing field. His leadership in his community, on the field, and in his workplace represents the power that Special Olympics athletes have to impact those around them.

A Special Olympics New Jersey Athlete for nearly 20 years, Steve has been involved in Special Olympics New Jersey’s flag football program since the inception of the sport in 2007. A proud member of Team New Jersey’s flag football team during the 2010 USA Games in Nebraska, USA, Steve lead his teammates to a bronze medal. Steve was also a member Team NJ during the 2014 USA Games, competing in unified volleyball. He and his teammates used that opportunity to advance to the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles as members of SO USA. They proudly represented the USA and NJ, taking fourth place. Steve also competes in floor hockey, basketball, and tennis.fallgames-172

Steve graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a 3.7 GPA, achieving a Phi Omega Epsilon Award for distinguished academic performance, in 2007. He works as a conference center coordinator and was recently recognized by his employer with an award given to employees for caught “doing right.”

In the community, Steve is an active member in a number of volunteer organizations. Volunteering as a Global Messenger for Special Olympics, he goes out on behalf of the organization to speak on a number of initiatives within the community. He is currently serving as Chairperson for the Athlete Congress, the governing body representing Special Olympics New Jersey athletes’ interest. Steve also is active with the Garden State Champions Lions Club, where he serves as President.

In this interview, Steve speaks about the importance of being a Lion.

What made you want to become a Lion?
I wanted to make a difference in the community and other people’s lives.

How as being a Lion made you a better athlete leader and community leader?
Being a Lion has taught me the value of teamwork within a group. Working on numerous service projects with the group has enabled me to assist members.  It’s all about making a difference in the community and other people’s lives.

What type of new skills has being a Lion taught you?
Leadership, teamwork, and communication is the key.

steven-rodenbeck_unified-volleyballHow would you increase volunteering with Lions in your community?
By working and communicating with other Lions Clubs in the area. This way, we can have our members plus members of the other Lions clubs working as one unit.  Remember, there is no “I” in team.

How do you envision athlete leaders learning more about leadership opportunities with Lions to help their communities?  What could our clubs do to help that?    

Athlete Leaders could take Leadership Seminar courses to expand their leadership skills. This way, this will teach them the value of hard work and dedication while leading a team effort. Also, the more that we are involved with service projects and fundraisers, the more that we will feel that we have made a positive impact in our community.

How do you see local Lions helping with awareness for your SO program?
The more that we as a Lions club get others Lions clubs to attended and participate in Special Olympics New Jersey events it would be a simple way for them to see and embrace our Special Olympics community.

What is your one message to other Clubs regarding athlete engagement?
Help support our great cause by volunteering in our many events. We have year-round sports training and competition September through June. Athletes love to meet new volunteers. Also, our Garden State Lions Club is always looking forward towards working as a unit and with other clubs as well.

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