NASHVILLE – For three nights in April at Flagpole Park in Brentwood, Nashville SC defender Taylor Washington trained, taught, laughed, hugged and connected with athletes from Special Olympics Tennessee. On Friday night at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena, Taylor Washington addressed athletes, families, friends, coaches and volunteers as the Keynote speaker for Special Olympics Tennessee’s Opening Ceremonies for the 2019 State Summer Games.
Washington was invited as the Keynote speaker because of the connection he has made with the athletes, and his role in connecting with the Nashville community. He joins a distinguished list of former Special Olympics Keynote speakers that includes Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who spoke last year at the event.
The Opening Ceremonies kick off a weekend long Games held on the campus of Lipscomb that includes 1,200 athletes, 500 coaches and 1,000 volunteers. Friday night started with the “Parade of Athletes,” similar to parade of flags that opens the Olympics every two years, with the athletes marching into Allen Arena.
The theme for the 2019 State Summer Games is “Choose to Include,” and Washington spoke to the crowd about his personal struggles, and how he has learned to live with and overcome them to become a professional soccer player.
In his speech, Washington reminisced to the moment when he was on his way to his first practice with Special Olympics Tennessee, when he kept thinking about how he was going to inspire the athletes he was working with. Ultimately, he said, it was the athletes who inspired him to train harder and to make a more positive impact on the Nashville community.
He ended his speech by citing the Special Olympics motto, and delivering a one final message of his own.
“Let me win, but if I can't win, let me be brave in the attempt,” Washington said. “At the end of the day, the journey to success is greater than any trophy, medal or stage you can stand on. The journey to success is a daily blessing of waking up and being the best that you can possibly be.”
After the event, Washington signed autographs and took pictures with the athletes as they prepare for the State Summer Games this weekend.