As a participant of Special Olympics Minnesota, we have made it our mission to transform lives through the joy of sport. Our athletes find confidence and fulfillment, they demonstrate determination and courage, and they express their joy every step of the way. On the playing field and in life, they inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential. We train and we compete and we build confidence, all while upholding our number one rule – HAVE FUN! We practice in northern Dakota County (but welcome all).
Alpine skiing and snowboarding challenge the athlete’s downhill racing ability and coordination. athletes will benefit by being in good physical condition.
Bowling is beneficial to people with intellectual disabilities, irrespective of their age or sports abilities, since it ensures physical exercise and social integration.
Softball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams. Every team aims in scoring as many runs possible against the opponents by striking the ball with a specific bat.
Basketball has players of all abilities, from young players to older, more experienced players . Basketball provides competition for both teams and individuals.
Poly hockey is played in the style of ice hockey, but on flat surfaces, such as a basketball court. Players on each team attempt to shoot a ball or puck into a goal using sticks.
Special Olympics Swimming offers divisions according to athlete ability and age. Individual events are offered as well as relays and events for athletes of lower ability.
Players try to get their Bocce balls closer to a target ball than their opponents. Individuals can participate as single players or as part of doubles or Unified team.
Flag football provides players with physical exercise, self-discipline, and teamwork skills. Participants will also learn leadership and sportsmanship skills.
Track and Field
Athletics offers a wide variety of traditional track and field events. Competition is also provided for athletes with lower ability levels in a variety of development track and field events.
Become an Athlete
Become a Coach
Be a Unified Partner
Our team would not exist today without the time, energy, commitment, and enthusiasm of our coaches. Coaches work with Special Olympics athletes to prepare them for competition and teach them the necessary skills to compete at their highest levels. Most of our team have two or more coaches.
A rapidly expanding program of Special Olympics is Unified Sports® — and for good reason. Unified Sports combine athletes with and without disabilities on teams that train and compete together, promoting friendship, understanding, and inclusiveness.
Any person who comes into contact with athletes, including Unified Partners regardless of age, must be certificated by Special Olympics of Minnesota. Level I coaches can help coach any sport. Level II coaches are sport specific certified.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are interested in getting yourself or someone you know registered as a Special Olympics Minnesota athlete, please head to SOMN’s Become an Athlete page to learn more.
Sorry, Athlete Applications (pages 1-2) expire every three years from the date of the medical exam, UNLESS the application expires during the sport season in which the athlete is participating. Here are some other details:
- New athletes are required to complete pages 1-4 of the Athlete Application
- Renewing athletes are required to complete pages 1-2 of the Athlete Application
- ALL athletes must complete the new communicable disease waiver (page 4)
- Athlete consent forms (page 3) expire when an athlete turns 18
If you are new to the Stars, it’s best if you contact our Head of Delegation, Sherry Walkush. Her contact information is listed below. If you have a specific sport in mind, she can tell you who is coaching that team. This way you’ll be able to gather information such as when the season starts along with where and when the team practices. In addition, you can share information that will be helpful to the coach.
There is no cost to the athlete to join Special Olympics Minnesota. There is no cost to attend practices or regional competitions, but there is a minimal fee to attend the state competition. Please talk to us if the fee is an issue.
Special Olympics prides itself on providing programs for all skill levels. By using preliminary scores and times to create teams and brackets, we ensure a competition environment that is balanced in terms of skill, age, and gender. Competitors are placed into divisions, based on their ability-level in a given sport or event, their age, and their gender. This provides competitors the opportunity to experience quality competition alongside their peers.
The goal of our practices is to prepare athletes for competition, so it is helpful athletes know some basic skills or at least how a game is played. However, the answer to this question will vary from team to team. Some sports are easy to pick up with minimal instruction; swimming, though, requires athletes be able to swim a length of the pool prior to attending practices.
YES! Thanks to our divisioning protocol, Special Olympics Minnesota has opportunities for all ages (8+) and abilities, so please don’t be intimidated when you think of a specific sport and what it traditionally entails. We do our best to work with and accommodate all athletes. In swimming, for example, we offer two session – one for our more athletic swimmers and one for those who aren’t there yet. Several team sports also offer events in individual events, especially good for those who are just starting out.
No. Unfortunately, we sometimes run into situations where a parent/guardian will bring their child to practice and expect they can jump right in and participate. Due to liability concerns, Special Olympics Minnesota requires that all athletes, unified partners, and coaches/volunteers have an application and appropriate paperwork on-file prior to them being able to participate at practice. Even if your athlete isn’t planning to compete in organized competitions, he/she still is required to have the necessary paperwork on-file with SOMN before they’ll be allowed to practice. If you plan to have all the paperwork completed before the first practice, it’s a good idea to let the coach know so that they can be prepared.
Unless your athlete is able to get himself/herself to practice (i.e. drive themselves, bike, or walk by themselves), a parent/guardian is required to stay on-site the entire time of the practice/competition/event. Coaches and volunteers are there to assist athletes with sporting and other opportunities, not act as their parent/guardian. This is a liability issue, therefore, if an athlete is dropped off or left at practice without a parent/guardian, we will be forced to call the athlete’s guardian and request they be picked up.
We do ask, that even if an athlete is self sufficient and is his or her own guardian, they be accompanied by a person who can remain with them, especially at competitions. Coaches and assistants have an obligation to the entire team, so they are not always able to get the athlete to where they need to be.
Only individuals who are SOMN eligible, have completed an application and signed up for a team can participate. That said, they are welcome to coach or play as Unified Partners. Just remember that coaches and Unified Partners, regardless of age, must complete certification for Level I coaching.
All athletes, regardless of residence, must complete the Special Olympics of Minnesota application and make sure it is updated as required. Athletes who’s application is not up-to-date will not be able to practice with a team. We also ask that staff inform the Head Coach of the sport in which they will be participating, inform the coach of the number of athletes from the home who will attending – ahead of the first practice. We are required to maintain a specific ratio of athletes to coaches. If the number of athletes attending from a group home changes that ratio, we may need to ask you or a member of your staff to become certified – if we are unable to find a coach ourselves.
In any case, we do ask that a member of your staff remain with your athletes throughout practices and competitions. We are obligated to all of our athletes and cannot serve as staff, parent or guardian to your athletes.
The health and safety of all Special Olympics participants is of paramount importance. We take this responsibility seriously and follow numerous protocols so that every athlete has a safe and positive experience. To that end:
- Certification: Our coaches (and Unified Partners) are trained to work with our athletes through a certification process. An important component of this is protective behavior training, which educates our coaches on ways to protect our athletes from harm or abuse. In addition, all volunteers undergo a background check.
- Sport Certified: Our head coaches are sport certified, which offers them ideas on how to create a positive team direction. They are responsible for setting the team’s direction and assessing athletes to ensure that they are set up for success
- Behavioral Issues: If we feel that an athlete’s behavior jeopardizes his or her own safety or the safety of others, we follow procedures from Special Olympics Minnesota.
- Adequate Coverage: Special Olympics Minnesota defines the number of coaches needed to ensure the safety of the athletes on the team. That said, we ask that someone remains with the athlete at all practices and competitions. A coach will remain on-site until all athletes have left or have a responsible party with them.
We are an all volunteer team, dependent on the generosity of the time people can share with us. Given that plans can change from year to year, we are not always certain as to will be at a team’s helm until the season gets nearer. The best course of action would be to contact our Head of Delegation, Sherry Walkush, who can keep you informed.