State Summer Games
When: June 3-5, 2022
What: Track and Field, Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Bocce and Soccer Championships
Where: Eastern Kentucky University; Richmond, KY
Volunteer Opportunities: timers, event stagers, awards stations, soccer officials.
Registration: Varies by sport. Swimming has the earliest registration date. Call 800-633-7403 for details.
The Special Olympics Kentucky Summer Games is the largest competitive event of the year as competition is conducted in 5 sports: Aquatics, Bocce, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Soccer and Track & Field. The Games are traditionally held the first weekend in June and take place on a college campus. On average, 1,200 athletes participate in these Games and each has qualified through participation at a Regional or Area level event. In addition to the athletes, approximately 600 coaches and five hundred family members attend the Games.
The Games officially begin on Friday night with the Opening ceremonies, which include a Parade of Athletes, Entertainment, Reciting of the Special Olympics Oath and the culmination of the statewide Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Competition begins early on Saturday morning and goes all day until the last heat on the track is run, the final bar lifted and the final goal is scored! When athletes are finished competing or waiting to compete, they have the opportunity to visit Olympic Town. Olympic Town is a designated area where athletes, coaches, family members, event volunteers can go to relax and enjoy musical entertainment and interactive games. Olympic Town also includes sports clinics, bingo, food, Special Smiles and Opening Eyes Healthy Athlete Programs.
By 5:00 pm competition and Olympic Town activities wrap up and the athletes are ready to celebrate the accomplishments of the day! Saturday night plays host to the Closing Ceremonies followed by the traditional Victory Dance.
To make the Summer Games happen it takes the coordinated efforts of over 500 volunteers. If you would like to receive volunteer information for this event, please click here and complete the form.
State Golf Tournament
When: August 2022
Where: Quail Chase Golf Course, Louisville
Volunteer Opportunities: Scorers, rules officials
Registration: Athletes register in June and participate in training sessions.
The Special Olympics Kentucky Golf Season runs June – August. The SOKY Golf Program offers 3 levels of play; Individual Skills, Unified Play (Special Olympics athlete paired with a golfer without an intellectual disability) and Individual Play. The State Tournament is generally held in August or September and golfers must qualify for the State Tournament by playing in a sanctioned Regional Level Tournament.
State Softball Tournament
When: September 2022
Where: Michael O. Buchanan Park; Bowling Green, KY
Volunteer Opportunities: umpires, scorekeepers, announcers
Registration: Athletes register in May or June and are placed with teams.
Special Olympics Kentucky Softball season runs June through September. Teams practice on a weekly basis and in some areas of the state, league play is available. In other areas, teams schedule games with one another. In August, teams participate in their respective Regional Tournament in order to qualify for the State Tournament.
The format of this year’s State Softball Tournament is still being worked out. We hope to have a Tournament in early September, but what form that takes will be determined by the COVID situation at the time and the State’s reopening process.
State Equestrian Competition
The Special Olympics Kentucky State Equestrian Competition is generally held in late summer to early fall. The event is currently held at Lakeside Arena in Frankfort.
SOKY offers both English and Western style riding in the following classes: Trails, Equitation, Dressage, Showmanship, Relays, Prix Caprilli, Pole Bending, Barrel Racing and Figure 8 Stake Race.
Within each class, ability levels are offered. There are classes for beginner riders or those of lower skill levels such as: CS=walk/supported or BS=walk & trot/supported. There are also classes offered for the more skilled or accomplished rider: BI=Walk & Trot/Independent or A Class = Walk, Trot & Canter.
State Flag Football Tournament
The State Flag Football Tournament became a stand-alone event for the first time in 2011. Prior to that it was contested as part of the State Summer Games in Richmond.
The season runs through September and October with teams practicing at least once a week leading up to Regional Tournaments in September or October. Teams must compete in at least one Regional Tournament in order to be eligible for the State Tournament, which is held in early November.
Currently the entire Tournament will be completed on Saturday.
State Artistic Gymnastics Competition
When: November 2022
Where: Legacy All Sports; Lexington
Registration: October (However athletes must begin training before registrations are due. Contact the Special Olympics Kentucky office for details.)
The State Artistic Gymnastics Competition moved to its own date for the first time in 2011. Prior to that it was contested as part of the State Summer Games in Richmond.
The Competition is a one-day event with athletes competing in all of the gymnastics disciplines. Women compete in floor exercise, uneven bars, vault and balance beam. Men compete in floor exercise, vault, high bar, parallel bars, pommel horse and rings. There is also an all-around competition.
State Bowling Tournament
When: December 2-4
Where: Kingpin Lanes and Fern Creek Strike and Spare; Louisville
Volunteer Opportunities: Lane workers (more than 200 needed), Unified partners, official scorers, awards presenters.
Registration: Athletes register in July or August.
The Special Olympics Kentucky Bowling season runs August through December. In August, more than 1,300 Special Olympics Bowlers and Unified partners begin their bowling season as they bowl weekly in order to improve their bowling skills and to obtain an accurate average. Any athlete who wishes to qualify for the State Bowling Tournament must participate in a sanctioned Area level Tournament. In order to qualify for an Area Tournament, he/she must submit a current average that includes at least 12 games.
Qualifying Area Level Tournaments are held throughout the state in late October and early November.
The format of the State Bowling Tournament is still being determined. What form that Tournament takes this year will be determined by the COVID situation at the tame and the State’s reopening process. There will not be an overnight stay this year.
The SOKY Bowling Program offers several formats of competition: singles, doubles and unified (Special Olympics athlete paired with a partner without an intellectual disability).
State Winter Games
When: January 22-24, 2023
Where: Perfect North Slopes; Lawrenceburg, IN
Volunteer Opportunities: competition workers, ski partners, awards stations
Registration: Athletes register three weeks prior to the event date
Competition is offered in Alpine Skiing and Snowshoeing events. In Alpine Skiing, 4 levels are offered; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Advanced-Plus.
The Games begin on Monday afternoon as delegations arrive for practice. Athletes are matched with volunteer ski partners for free practice and practice on their race courses. Opening Ceremonies will be held Monday evening along with a victory dance. On Tuesday, athletes are again paired with a volunteer ski partner for their time trials in the morning. Races will be held after lunch followed by the award ceremony. In the Alpine Skiing Competition, athletes compete in both downhill and slalom events. In Snowshoeing, athletes compete in the 25 meter, 50 meter and 100 meter races.
For athletes who cannot quite master the skills for alpine downhill and slalom events, Developmental Races are offered; 10 meter and 20 meter glide.
Thank you to all the ski clubs in the tri-state area who support this event especially the Cincinnati Ski Club.
State Cheerleading Competition
When: January 2023
Volunteer Opportunities: coaches, judges, tabulators, announcers
Registration: Athletes register in November and are placed with teams
The SOKY State Cheerleading competition branched out on its own for the first time in 2005 after 20 years of being held in conjunction with the State Basketball tournament. The competition takes place on a Saturday with more than 20 squads competing for division honors. For competitive purposes, there are 5 divisions; beginner, intermediate, advanced, elite and Unified.
State Basketball Tournament and Team Skills Competition
When: March 2023
Where: MidAmerica Sports Complex; Louisville, KY
Volunteer Opportunities: coaches, officials, scorekeepers, scorebook keepers, awards presenters, skills station workers, group escorts (individual skills competition), score tabulators (individual skills competition), dance decorations.
Registration: Athletes register in November and are placed with teams.
The SOKY Basketball Season runs November – March. There are approximately 75-80 Special Olympics basketball teams in the state. Teams practice on a weekly basis and in some areas of the state, league play is available. In other areas, teams schedule games with each other. In late February, teams participate in their respective Regional Tournament to see who qualifies for the State Tournament.
The State Basketball Tournament is held generally the 2nd or 3rd weekend in March in Louisville. Through Regional play, about 36 teams will qualify for the State Tournament. For the teams who do not qualify, team members are still invited to come to Louisville to compete in the Team Skills Competition.
Teams arrive in Louisville on Friday afternoon as Tournament games and Skills competition begins early Saturday morning. Games and Skills are played well into Saturday afternoon and by 5:00 pm, all play ceases! It’s time to get ready for the banquet and dance. A Victory Dance has become a tradition for Special Olympics and is truly a highlight for the athletes.
The teams who have won on Saturday will advance to the final round of play on Sunday morning. By early Sunday afternoon, division titles have been decided! Individual Skills competition is completed by Saturday afternoon.