Ask an Athlete Leader: Wyatt Wheetley

Wyatt Wheetley flexes on the medal stand with a member of law enforcement

Athlete Leader Wyatt Wheetley’s resume showcases his love for sports. In a Special Olympics career that has spanned more than a decade, Wyatt has participated in seven different events: soccer, basketball, swimming, bocce, softball, bowling, and track and field. His athletic endeavors do not stop there – he continues to develop his abilities as a college athlete. In a recent interview, Wyatt shared details of these experiences, including the importance of leadership skills as both an athlete and a student.

Wyatt is a long-distance runner at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif..

“I do cross country in the fall and track in the spring,” he described. “I run from 2 p.m. to about 5 p.m. every day, Monday through Friday. Sometimes we come together and run with some of the teammates on Saturday.”

On top of this full schedule, Wyatt is an Eagle Scout and a dedicated student majoring in communications.

Wyatt values the social and competitive aspects of college athletics. When asked his favorite part of running for his college, he couldn’t pick just one.

“That’s a great question. I like running with my teammates. I don’t particularly like running alone…I just like the competition.”

Clearly, Wyatt enjoys the friendships created by and strengthened through sport. He is an Athlete Leader for Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) and has represented SONC on a number of levels.

“My favorite part is to meet other Special Olympics folks from all over,” he said.

Through the Athlete Leadership Program, Wyatt connects with other athletes while developing valuable leadership skills. Specifically, Wyatt has gained public speaking experience. He shared tips he learned from an Athlete Leadership training event: “I had to make sure my speeches were not too long…or short, just right.” He added, “I learned some people incorporated video with their speech.”

These skills translate naturally to the classroom.

“I did a public speaking class where the professor sent us a topic and we had to watch a video. I had to do videos like three a week,” he explained.

Wyatt believes his experiences with public speaking as an Athlete Leader helped prepare him for these assignments and contributed to his success as a college student.

“If you feel confident about doing the speech, then I would say… [I am] a better speaker in college.”

Whether sporting a Special Olympics jersey or his school colors, Wyatt is a leader. His passion for others and drive to succeed promise a bright future in the classroom, on the track, and beyond.


-Written by Emily Gillett


Thank you to United Airlines and Bank of America for sponsoring the Athlete Leadership Program. Learn more at