The Specially Fit Foundation’s latest endeavor includes a brand-new high school for grades nine through 12. (Photo courtesy of SFA Academy.)

The Specially Fit Foundation provides services such as Special Olympics training, weekly workout classes, housing for individuals with disabilities, job-shadowing opportunities, health care, job opportunities and a farm that gives animal therapy. The foundation’s latest endeavor includes a brand-new high school for grades nine through 12.

The Specially Fit Academy (SFA Academy) will provide educational opportunities and extracurricular activities to all students with or without disabilities, as well as a high school diploma. SFA Academy will boast a football program that will play 11 games next season against local high schools.

“Our Special Olympics program is currently the largest and fastest-growing Special Olympics team in Hillsborough County,” said Specially Fit CEO Mark Oliver. “The heart of Specially Fit has always been fitness and athletics.”

Oliver, a former D-I football player at the University of South Florida, has brought in an experienced coaching staff to lead the football program. The staff includes former North Carolina Panthers running back Lyndon Rowells, who will be the strength and conditioning coach; former Armwood JV head football coach Curtis Grooms, who will serve as the offensive coordinator; and former ACA Academy head coach Kendrick Johnson, who will serve as SFA’s head football coach.

The team, which is already practicing for the upcoming season, will play their first football game against Sebastian River High School. Home games will take place at the Dover Patriots football field and the Bealsville Eagles field.

The academy, which just announced a location partnership with the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center in Plant City, was already approved by the Florida Department of Education. According to Oliver, students will have unique opportunities to learn both inside and outside the classroom.

SFA will have traditional high school classes and college prep courses, in addition to offering agricultural, nursing and entrepreneurship programs. Students have the option to learn from hands-on experience with livestock and in the community garden on a 7-acre farm. They also have the opportunity to shadow and learn from certified health-care providers and will be able to learn entrepreneurship skill sets, social skills and life skills from successful business owners. 

“I have an amazing, well-trained and equipped staff to fill all the necessary roles,” said Oliver. “Together, we keep everything going, and work as a team. As long as we can make an impact on others’ lives, we will continue to build and grow.”

SFA Academy has many community partnerships that are being utilized to provide services, including Tampa General Hospital, BayCare HealthHub, Olive Health, Valor Fitness, Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation and Plant City Parks & Recreation.

For more information about SFA Academy, email or visit

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.