Dalton McMath is heavily involved with area Special Olympics activities.
Between the Antioch Redskins and Dover Patriots, Dalton McMath has played all over the football field. These days, you can find McMath slinging the pigskin in Special Olympics flag football competition and volunteering much of his time to help local special needs athletes have a meaningful, successful sports experience.
Know someone who deserves an Athlete of the Week feature? Email Justin Kline at JKline@plantcityobserver.com by the Friday before the next issue.
You’ve played on both sides of the field for the last eight years. Which position is your favorite to play?
I like playing defensive end a lot. I played a little bit of d-end, linebacker, safety — wherever they needed me. I like playing defense because I like to hit.
How did you get involved with Special Olympics?
I work with Craig Gordon (Special Olympics Florida Games and Competitions Chair) and his wife, Pam. I’ve been going out to their farm since I was a little kid. I knew he did Special Olympics for a while but I was playing Little League, so I couldn’t really go to Gainesville on Saturdays because I had a game. I ended up taking a year off football, got into working out a little bit, I helped him out and I love it. I’ve been doing it for four, five years now.
What’s the most fun thing about working with the Special Olympics athletes?
Just the excitement and joy that they have for the littlest things that we take for granted, like catching the ball. Making a touchdown is like winning the Super Bowl. It’s the most incredible thing to see. We don’t even have to win and they’re excited to be there.
How is the unified competition set up?
They have different divisions. You have Division 1, 2 and 3. I used to play on a Division 1 team… that is really hard I’ve got to keep up with them. Right now I enjoy working with the lower level, Division 3.
You also work with the athletes beyond the playing field, taking care of travel and nutritional stuff?
It’s a lot to look after 20 or so athletes, like what they eat for breakfast at the hotel. You don’t want everybody loading up on cereal before an 8 a.m. game. They’re usually pretty good.
Do you play sports for any other organizations these days, besides Special Olympics?
I don’t. I just fell in love with Special Olympics and working out.
What’s next for you?
Right now we’re in between football. We’ll start up sometime in the summer.
Any college plans?
Not at the moment. I’m kind of just chilling right now.
Is there any sport you’ve never tried before, but would if you could?
I’ve tried a little bit of everything. I’ve played hockey, basketball, baseball, football, soccer… rugby seems pretty cool, not gonna lie, so I’d say rugby.
What’s your favorite sports moment that you’ve been a part of?
We have a Special Olympics athlete named Ruben and he can’t use his right arm. He can catch anything as long as you hit that left shoulder area. We were up in Gainesville two years ago and I was rolling out, I ended up hitting him in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
What’s one of the funniest moments you’ve had with a team?
Once again, probably Ruben. He caught a ball in the middle of the field and fell down. Sometimes he has seizures and everyone thought he was having a seizure, but he was actually really excited that he caught the ball. He just didn’t get up. Everyone was freaking out but he ended up being alright.