What is Unified Sports?
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive program which combines individuals with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and individuals without intellectual disabilities (partners) on sports teams for training and competitions. Athletes and partners compete alongside one another, each in a meaningful and integral role on the Unified Sports® team.
SOKS offers Unified as an option for all Team Sports competitions. Partners should attend practices regularly like all other athletes. Unified Sports teams are divisioned separately from traditional Special Olympics teams for competitions.
What is the Unified Sports League?
Since 2013, SOKS has begun creating a Unified Sports League in KC made primarily of school-based Unified Sports teams for basketball (fall), bocce (winter) and soccer (spring). Sports are held in opposite seasons to traditional SOKS sports to allow athletes to participate in both Unified and traditional SOKS programming. The benefit here is that an athlete can focus on fewer sports and have more opportunities to improve those sports skills.
September 1 – Unified Basketball Practice Begins
September 25 – Registrations Due
November 4 – Unified Basketball Tournament @ Shawnee Mission West High School
Aubry Bend Middle
Blue Valley West High
Blue Valley North High
Blue Valley Southwest High
Bonner Springs High
F.L. Schlagle High
J.C. Harmon High
Mill Valley High
Pleasant Ridge Middle
Prairie Star Middle
Shawnee Mission East
Shawnee Mission Northwest
Shawnee Mission West
Washburn Rural High
Practices occur at minimum once per week throughout the season (about 8-9 weeks). Practices may take place when and where team coaches deem most effective for their team. However, we suggest practicing right after school on/near campus and utilize activity busses as transport home. Practices last about an hour under the instruction of a Coach registered with SOKS.
A team roster consists of about ten students (five with intellectual disabilities and five without) who practice over eight weeks and compete in league matches and a tournament. Schools can have as many teams as they need. We recommend multiple teams per school to divide based on skill level.
No particular experience necessary. We are looking for passionate individuals willing to donate 1 day/week to coaching high school students after school. Teachers, paraeducators, soccer coaches should apply, as well as anyone else with an interest.
All Coaches must meet coach requirements. Each school team needs a fully certified coach.
We recommend each school have multiple coaches, including sports coach, staff liaison, and community volunteers.
Additionally, we encourage Staff Coaches to select Youth Leaders to lead teams as a service learning project:
- Member of NHS or Stuco, or like-minded individual
- Recruits students to participate and reminds students to turn in forms, go to practice, etc.
- Promotes league among student body to attend as fans in the stands
- Chooses other projects to lead in order to enhance school’s inclusive environment.
A Unified Partner is a student without an intellectual disability. Partners in our Player-Development division act as mentors to athletes. As such, specific rules and guidelines are in place to ensure athletes have meaningful involvement in the competition. Learn more by reviewing the Player-Development Guidelines. Partner must complete both a Youth Class A Application and Youth Unified Partner Application (or adult versions as applicable) prior to practicing and competing.