The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has further enhanced its ‘Champions Together’ partnership with Special Olympics Indiana (SOIN) in sanctioning a Unified Track and Field event set for 2014. This most recent collaborative effort allows IHSAA-member schools to form teams composed equally of students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete for a state championship in Unified Track and Field. The IHSAA Executive Committee officially approved the new tournament during last week’s monthly meeting. Schools will be able to individually schedule regular season competitions next spring before state tournament competition. Two sectionals meets – one north and one south – will be run on Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31 at centrally located host sites with all participants then advancing to the state championship meet on Saturday, June 7, 2014. That event will be held in conjunction with and take place just prior to the start of the IHSAA Boys Track & Field State Finals in Bloomington.
December 17, 2012
IHSAA and Special Olympics Indiana Announce Partnership
The Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc. (IHSAA) and Special Olympics Indiana have announced a partnership which will set the stage for ongoing activities between the athletes from both organizations intended to foster mutually beneficial learning experiences for years to come.
The partnership was inspired by the 2012‐13 IHSAA Student Advisory Committee (SAC), as it sought out opportunities for community outreach and volunteer experiences and decided that Special Olympics was a perfect fit for their goals. The SAC is a group of 18 student‐athletes who represent the 160,000 participants around the state as a liaison to the IHSAA staff and Board of Directors.
“We feel that a partnership with Special Olympics will provide us with an opportunity to learn as student leaders by giving back to a very special group of individuals in our communities based on our mutual interest in sports,” said Ally Stein, a senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School and president of this year’s Student Advisory Committee.
Through the partnership, the IHSAA will encourage its 410 member schools and their athletes and coaches to participate in existing Special Olympics events, create their own events and otherwise lend support to Special Olympics Indiana. The activities pursued by IHSAA student athletes will vary in each school, county and athletic conference tailored to best utilize the student athletes’ time and
IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox commented, "The opportunity for the IHSAA to partner with Special Olympics of Indiana may prove to be one of the most profound decisions made by the Association in the ongoing development of student leaders in an education-based athletic setting. I am most pleased that our Student Advisory Committee has decided to engage with and support the activities of one of our state's most important organizations."
Mike Furnish, President and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana added, “By partnering with the IHSAA we’re optimistic that students with special needs will be more accepted in their schools and feel more motivated to get involved in sports through Special Olympics.”
The IHSAA and Special Olympics Indiana will celebrate the new partnership with a reception at the IHSAA Office (9150 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis) on Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 4‐5 pm ET. News media are welcome to attend.
For additional information on the partnership, please contact Lee Lonzo, IHSAA Educational Consultant, at LeeLonzo@me.com or 317‐796‐5490.
Video Remarks from Dec. 18 Reception
IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox
Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Mike Furnish
Special Olympian Andrew Peterson and IHSAA Student Advisory Committee President Ally Stein
About Special Olympics Indiana
Special Olympics Indiana is a not-for-profit organization that provides year-round sports to more than 11,000 athletes across Indiana. The organization receives no federal- or state-appropriated funds, is not a United Way agency and relies entirely on corporate, civic and individual donations. For more information about Special Olympics Indiana, call (317) 328-2000 or visit www.soindiana.org.
About the Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc. (IHSAA)
Founded in 1903, the purpose of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc. (IHSAA) is to encourage, regulate and give direction to wholesome amateur interschool athletic competition between its 410 member schools. The Association provides state championship tournament series in 20 sports, 10 for girls and 10 for boys. Approximately 160,000 student athletes participate in IHSAA sports on an annual basis.
Student Advisory Committee Projects & Stories
Story Submitted by: Amber Cowell, SAC Member
At Culver, we have put on multiple events regarding Special Olympics. We have a Special Olympics field day event annually for the past ten years. On top of this, a club exists at Culver which helps raise awareness for others with disabilities, Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP). SNAP meets monthly to go over ideas, reflect, and put on together and plan events. SNAP put together an all school assembly at Culver. All the students and faculty attended the assembly which is when Craig Tornquist and Andrew Peterson spoke. This all school assembly was one of the most successful events at Culver regarding raising awareness for others with disabilities. It is always helpful to raise funds and put on events, but one of the most important goal if not the most important goal is gaining respect for those with disabilities. The all school assembly allowed an opportunity for the Culver community to reflect and become aware of actions. When Andrew spoke, you could hear a pin drop. All the students were engaged and respectful. It truly was an incredible experience. The goal of gaining respect and to have individuals no longer use the R-word will be present in the future and I look forward to this day!
Story Submitted By: Kirsten Spangenberg, SAC Member
The other day, someone asked me the question, “What is one activity you’re involved in that you’re probably going to remember forever?” My response was simple, being apart of Champions Together. Two years ago I had never spent any of my time with a Special Olympics athlete, now, its one of my favorite things to do. The athletes remind me why I love sports so much, it’s not always about winning, it’s about being on a team and doing what you love.
I’ve done a few events at my school promoting Champions Together and have had an unbelievable amount of positive outcomes from them. My first event was a competition between 2 schools of who could get the most signatures on our “Spread the Word to End the R-Word” banners at our rival football game. We received 450+ signatures from our two tiny 2A schools!
Recently, I did a fundraiser where we made rally towels with the Champions Together logo on them and had our fans wave them around while we had a Special Olympic scrimmage at the half time of our varsity basketball game. Our cheer block was louder during the Special Olympics scrimmage then they were during our varsity game! We raised $975 that night with the unbelievable support and donations from our fans.
Lastly, my favorite event, polar plunges. I participated in the Valparaiso University plunge the past 2 years and this year was by far my favorite of the two. My goal was to raise $1000 and my team raised a total of $1,750! We were also the biggest group at the plunge with 7 students, our athletic director and even our school board president! That day also accomplished my goal of qualifying my school for a Champions Together banner for our school gym.
Watching our partnership grow more and more each day has been such a fulfilling experience. It’s been a privilege and honor to be apart of Champions Together. It has changed my life in so many different ways; shaping me into the person I am today and making me realize that EVERYONE deserves the chance to be included.