LONG BEACH, Calif. (Oct. 2, 2017) – Special Olympics Southern California has unveiled a new sports plan that will maximize the amount of training and competition for athletes year-round, allow it to serve more athletes than ever before, and enhance the athlete experience.
A Sports Taskforce formed in 2016 to assess SOSC’s sports offerings and seasons. The task force presented its recommendations to the Board of Directors, who accepted the recommendations in December of 2016.
“Among the goals in our four-year strategic plan for 2017 through 2020 was to identify how best we could serve our current athletes as well as present opportunities for new athletes,” said Bill Shumard, President and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California. “Special Olympics staff, athletes, and coaches worked for over a year to evaluate where we are as an organization and where those we serve want us to go. This new plan will help us provide more competitive opportunities so our athletes can stay physically fit year-round and will help us continue to grow our reach in Southern California.”
The modifications to the sport offerings will take place during the next three years. Beginning this fall, floor hockey will move to its own season in November, culminating with a championship on March 11, 2018. Flag football will be added to the sports offerings at the start of 2018. In addition, gymnastics wrapped up its tenure as a sports offering during the 2017 Summer Games this past June.
“Flag football is having a huge impact all over the country in Special Olympics’ programs, so we are thrilled to host training and competitions in Southern California. In addition, the Los Angeles Rams have become terrific partners in helping to launch and highlight our efforts,” said Shumard. “We are very proud of this exciting, new opportunity.”
Bowling, the most popular sport currently offered by SOSC, is moving to its own season in 2018. It will begin in June and culminate in a bowling championship in August. For 2017, athletes will continue to train and compete in bowling during the fall season, with culminating competition at Fall Games on Nov. 11-12, 2017.
Additional changes for the fall of 2018 will be the shift of soccer competitions to a seven versus seven format. It is currently played five versus five. Golf, previously played in the spring and a part of the annual Summer Games, will shift to the fall season. It will culminate with competition at the annual Fall Games in 2018. Golf clinics will be offered to athletes during the spring sports season in 2018, but golf will not be included in the 2018 Summer Games.
Cheerleading will make its debut in October of 2018. Cheerleading will give SOSC 13 offered sports. It will be introduced through camps and clinics and will then transition to a competitive sport in 2019.
Unified Sports, which provides opportunities for athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to compete together, will make its competitive debut in 2019. Unified flag football competitions will take place in the spring season culminating with the 2019 Summer Games. Unified soccer competitions will take place in the fall season, culminating with the 2019 Fall Games.
“Unified Sports is the new horizon in the Special Olympics movement. It has done a tremendous amount of good in our schools and will help us spread acceptance and inclusion in the community as well,” Shumard says.
For a more comprehensive look at the plan and to get involved as an athlete, coach or volunteer, visit SOSC.org.
ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, and leadership programs. Special Olympics helps athletes become more independent, build self-esteem, and live healthier lives. They inspire people to open their hearts and create more accepting and inclusive communities. All Special Olympics programs are free to the athletes and their families. Special Olympics Southern California has earned a 4-star ranking from Charity Navigator for exceeding industry standards. This ranking is the highest Charity Navigator offers to an organization and is given because Special Olympics has demonstrated strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency. Learn more at www.sosc.org.