Austin Gardner is a Plant City Dolphins player and Special Olympics Unified partner.
Austin Gardner can usually be found on the football field playing defensive tackle for the Plant City Dolphins Varsity football team in the TCYFCC. But Gardner is also active in the local Special Olympics scene and recently competed in the State Summer Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Gardner helped the 4×100 relay team win a silver medal at the event.
How was the experience?
It was fun. It was nice hanging out with my brother and my friend.
How many have you been to?
First one. I’ve been to others to watch my brother (RJ Gardner), but this is the first one I’ve played in.
Were you nervous?
A little bit.
How did you calm yourself down?
I told myself, “I got this and I can win.”
Which other sports do you play for Special Olympics?
Bowling, basketball and track.
How long have you been with the Dolphins?
Five or six years.
Which positions do you play?
Center, sometimes left guard, or defensive tackle.
What was your favorite moment with the Dolphins?
Making it to the Super Bowl in 2016. We were the only Dolphins team that won that year.
What’s a sport you’ve never tried before but would if you could?
Probably hockey. I would want to play like Steven Stamkos.
Your brother said you’ve been a big inspiration to him. How have you helped him with his own athletic career?
I help make sure he stays focused. Once we get on the track I remind him we came out here to win and have fun.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
If you could play football for any college team and any pro team, what would they be?
The Florida Gators and Tampa Bay Bucs.
What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to get involved in Special Olympics and might go to their own first state games soon?
Always stay calm and be on track. Motivate the athletes.
What’s some of the best advice a coach has given you?
Keep practicing. Stay on track. Never give up.
What’s one of the coolest things you’ve done on the field?
Probably playing defensive tackle. That’s my favorite spot.
What’s your favorite pre-game meal?
Pancakes, eggs and bacon.