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 Unified Sports League has existed in Kansas City and Topeka 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.
We are actively working to expand the Unified Sports League across the entire state. Please contact Chris Burt at email@example.com if you would like more information on how your school could get involved.
Early September – Unified Basketball Practice Begins
Aubry Bend Middle School
Blue Valley High
Blue Valley North
Blue Valley Northwest High School
Blue Valley Southwest
Blue Valley West
Bonner Springs High School
F.L. Schlagle High School
Gardner High School
J.C. Harmon High School
Lansing High School
Lawrence High School
Olathe East High School
Olathe Northwest High School
Olathe South High School
Osawatomie High School
Piper High School
Pleasant Ridge Middle School
Prairie Star Middle School
Robert E Clark Middle School
Shawnee Mission East
Shawnee Mission Northwest
Shawnee Mission West
Washburn Rural High School
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.
Unified Sports Coach recruitment video: Coaches share their insight on the keys to being a successful Unified Sports coach and the role they play in ensuring meaningful involvement on the field and fostering social inclusion off the field.
Unified Sports Inclusion recruitment video: Teammates and coaches talk about the power Unified Sports can have in building friendships at school and in the community.
Unified Sports Official recruitment video: Officials share their experiences on the role they play in ensuring fair and safe Unified Sports competition compared to the role staff play in managing player domination.
Unified Sports School Administrators recruitment video: The video provides elementary, middle and high school administrators an overview of Unified Sports, including the benefits a Unified Champion School can bring to their students and school community.
Unified Sports Teammates recruitment video: Teammates share their perspective on the value of Unified Sports, on the field expectations and off the field benefits.
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.
We do require each team to have one coach per sport who has completed the free, online NFHS Coaching Unified Sports course.
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.
If a student already participates in Special Olympics, the forms may not be required for registration. Contact Chris Burt, firstname.lastname@example.org, 913-236-9290 Ext 107.
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. Each partner must complete a Class A Volunteer & Unified Partner Registration Form.