Special Olympics New York Announces Start of Summer Sports Season

Athletes Across the State Begin Training in 8 Sports, Competitive Fitness & Esports

Unified Champion Schools Prepare for Start of Basketball Season

Albany, NY – Special Olympics New York today announced the start of its 2021 Summer Sports Season, offering regular training in eight sports as well as a variety of fitness activities for athletes to train and compete where group practices may not be possible due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The Summer Season also includes another round of eSports competition for athletes and Unified pairs statewide.

Thousands of athletes will compete in basketball, bowling, gymnastics, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball. Additionally, Unified Champion Schools across the state are looking forward to the start of basketball season.

“Special Olympics New York is proud to offer a Summer Sports Season that accommodates the needs of all our athletes and coaches while also prioritizing the health and safety of our community,” said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “Our return to play continues to ensure an opportunity for every athlete to get back in the game, whether they are able to practice in teams, on their own with their coach or through esports. Good luck to all of our summer season competitors!”

“When the pandemic started, all my in-person training stopped. To stay active at this time, my mom and I started walking every day. At first, it was just short walks in our neighborhood. We now walk 3 miles,” said Swimming Athlete Kathleen Maggi, of New York City. “I participated in the Special Olympics New York Seasons at Home. This has all been good, but I can’t wait to get back in the pool and start training in my favorite sport again!”

“I knew I would learn a lot when it came to coaching our at-home Fitness Altitude program for Special Olympics New York; but I never knew how quickly our other coaches, staff, and athletes would make me feel welcomed into this community,” said Capital Region Coach Beau Loendorf, who became a certified coach during the pandemic. “I am so lucky to be part of this amazing organization, one that is making me a better person and coach every single day.”

Alongside its traditional sport offerings, Special Olympics New York is proud to see a majority of its 250 Unified Champion Schools prepared to offer Unified Basketball in public schools across the state. Approximately 70 schools and 1300 students are also competing in Unified Bowling.

“Playing Unified helps build students’ confidence, improves their social skills, creates lifelong friendships and helps everyone feel like they are a part of something really special,” said Unified Coach Katie Cobstill for Churchville-Chili School District. “Off the court, the change in the culture has been incredible to witness. Students with significant special needs and typical high school students are seen high-fiving in the hallways, eating lunch together, attending school events together and developing genuine friendships. This program is truly changing a generation.”

Schools that do not yet offer Unified Sports are invited to learn more about introducing this program in time for the next school year by visiting the Special Olympics New York website or sending an inquiry to unified@nyso.org.

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About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.

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