Athlete Leadership Programs

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presented by Pinnacle Financial Partners
The 11 members of the 2023 ALPs graduating class aligned in two rows in front of a Special Olympics Kentucky banner.
The 2023 Athlete Leadership Program graduating class.

ALP’s provide athletes with opportunities above and beyond competition, to become advocates for themselves, all persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) and Special Olympics.  Athlete Leaders can become committee members, board members, serve on a SOKY sport development team, be a volunteer and more!

ALP’s give individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to stand up and let their voices be heard, as well as teach them leadership skills that will help them in all facets of their life.  Once their training is complete, athletes can have the opportunity to hold positions of leadership and influence.

Purpose of Athlete Leadership Program

To empower athletes to develop leadership skills and to take on leadership roles.  Athletes are encouraged to utilize their voices to bring awareness to their abilities, the abilities of people with ID and awareness of Special Olympics.  We hope to empower athletes and help them understand their potential to influence change in the Special Olympics movement and educate communities that results in positive life changes.

How To Become a Trained Athlete Leader

  • A new class is recruited each year – we started in 2016 so there is a graduate class from each year (i.e., Class of 2016, Class of 2017, etc.).
  • Athletes must attend (in-person) the 4 four training courses that are offered in that year. The trainings progress from one to the other so you can’t skip one.
  • Currently, all training courses are held in Frankfort at the SOKY office (10am – 3pm).
  • Athletes will need reliable transportation to and from the training sessions.
  • Training sessions are for the athletes only.
  • Athletes should have a base-level ability to read and write.
  • Athletes should possess the desire to be an Athlete Leader and attend training sessions with a fun and enthusiastic attitude.


    • Be 14 years of age or older and be an active athlete in the program.
    • Must have access to e-mail
    • Have ability to read at a minimum of a third-grade level and can express thoughts and ideas in writing (can use laptop/tablet, etc.).
    • Have ability to communicate thoughts and ideas to others.
    • Must commit to attending four in-person training meetings in Frankfort.
    • Must have reliable transportation (training sessions are for athletes only – a designated person should be committed to getting athletes to sessions on time and be there for pick-up at the conclusion of the training).

Opportunities Offered for Athletes

Annually, a new group of athletes enroll in the Athlete Leadership Class – the Class of athletes will participate in 4 training sessions scheduled throughout the year.  Upon graduation, each athlete will be an Official Athlete Ambassador.  In addition, some athletes will also be a Global Messenger.

  • Athlete Ambassador – athletes will have the opportunity to represent SOKY at all types of events to include fundraisers, sponsor visits, school/business presentations, receptions, and more.
  • Global Messenger – in addition to being an Ambassador for the program, athletes will be considered official public speakers and will have opportunities to speak on behalf of Special Olympics Kentucky at various functions.

Athletes on the Board of Directors

Special Olympics athletes serve on the SOKY Board of Directors.  As board members, they are given the opportunity to share their opinions, participate in discussions and are expected to deliver the Athlete Report at each board meeting.  Athletes who desire to serve on the board of directors should be proficient with email communication and have access to Zoom for meetings.

SOKY Sport Development Teams (SDT’s)

Athletes can be assigned to serve on a sport specific SDT giving them an opportunity to share ideas and opinions about sports rules and regulations.  SDT’s give athletes a chance to discuss important issues with other athletes and be the voice of the athletes at meetings.  Athletes who desire to be a member of a SDT should be proficient with email communication and have access to Zoom for meetings.

Athletes as Volunteers, Officials and/or Coaches

Athletes who desire to take their sport experience to another level can become volunteers, coaches and/or sport officials.  Athletes who qualify would be required to obtain all levels of training outlined by SOKY for Coach Certification and/or must fulfill all training and education requirements of the sport national governing body for becoming a certified official.

For more information about the Athlete Leadership program, contact Trish Mazzoni at 502-695-8222 or [email protected].

Presented By

Pinnacle Financial Group