Become an Athlete

Special Olympics athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities who like other athletes –love to train, compete and do their best, whether they win or lose. This is where athletes meet new friends and experience great rewards of being the best they can.

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, must be at least 8 years old, by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disability, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or a closely related developmental disability which means functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills.

There are three steps to become an athlete: (1) check your eligibility (2) complete a Special Olympics of Minnesota Application and (3) take the online “Waiver and Liability for Communicable Diseases” presentation.

Here are your links, including a walk-through to make sure the application you submit is filled our correctly (really, detail is important.

The Olympic Oath

Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

We love our volunteers!  Val Quinlan and Pat and Michelle Quinlan are three of our swim coaches – but so much more.  Here they are showing off their team spirit in New Mexico!


Honestly, our team would not exist today without the time, energy, commitment, and enthusiasm of our volunteers. They are all ages, and their commitments can range from an afternoon to years of coaching…family members, teachers, and those who simply want to change others’ lives and their own.

Behind the Scene volunteers ensure athletes’ applications are current; plan fundraisers and social events, update the website and email communications, and time and measure athletes.

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 has regular contact with our athletes is required to complete a Level I training process.

Level I Training:  Complete a volunteer application, permit a background check and review two online presentations that cover a general orientation, protective behaviors, and concussions and COVID information.

Level II Training: Each team also requires at least one Level II coach, who is trained to coach that particular sport. Review of an additional online presentation geared to coaching the sport is also required.

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