Special Olympics Illinois has an exciting announcement to make! We are again partnering with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club to create a Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All Star team. This team will practice monthly at Chicago Fire training facilities and will travel with the Chicago Fire Soccer team as well as host another team here in Chicago. The following games have been selected for participation by the Chicago Fire Unified All Star Team:
- Saturday, July 16, 2016 – Dallas TX vs. FC Dallas
- Sunday, August 14, 2016 – Bridgeview, IL vs Orlando City SC
The team will be comprised of 4-5 Special Olympics Illinois Athletes, 4-5 Unified Partners and 3 Coaches. We are looking for individuals interested in serving as the coaches for this team. We are also looking for nominations of Special Olympics Illinois Athletes and Unified Partners to participate on the team. A school may nominate more than one set of students to participate on the team.
The clinic and tryouts for athletes and partners will be at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch on Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 4-6pm.
Coaches Applications are due to Jennifer Marcello by February 5, 2016 and we will be conducting interviews February 9, 2016 from 3-7pm at Toyota Park in Bridgeview to fill the coaching slots. Download nomination forms below.
Alpine skiing is arguably one of the most difficult sports offered through Special Olympics Illinois and earlier this month SOILL Chicago/Area 3 athletes were up for the challenge.
For the first time in many years, Area 3 hosted the Chicago Alpine Skiing Qualifier in Galena, which boasted 42 athletes from 10 park district locations and two Chicago Public Schools – including approximately 20 new skiers.
The volunteers at the event were recruited from the Winter Games volunteer pool and couldn’t have been more excited about the event. Athlete Bill Braasch from McGuane Park was greeted on the top of the hill by volunteer Mark Van Osdel with a huge cheer after Van Osdel recognized him from many past Winter Games.
Bessemer Park and Amundsen High School athletes made the slopes look easy. The Bessemer Park athletes – all brand new to alpine skiing – took to the sport very quickly. During the level assessments, several athletes gave the next level up a try, and while not all of them moved up, it was inspiring to see athletes reaching for the next challenge.
In Amundsen High School’s first year of winter sports, let alone involvement in Special Olympics, the team brought four athletes to Galena. Three of these athletes, with little to no experience skiing, qualified for the 2016 Special Olympics Illinois Winter Games.
Amundsen High School Coach Ryan Ward has been working with Special Olympics since he was in high school, close to 16 years ago. He later majored in Special Education in college and is in his ninth year of teaching.
“Last spring I approached the idea [of introducing a Special Olympics team] to Amundsen High School’s principal, Anna Pavichevich, and she gave me her full support,” says Ward. “She even filled out the paperwork to be a coach.”
The alpine skiing competition was a great introduction for the athletes and school. Ward expects they will have between 12 and 20 athletes competing in soccer skills, swimming and athletics this spring.
“Looking back, the students had an amazing time and have not stopped talking about the trip. They feel like they are part of a team now,” Ward says. “We are proud of what they have accomplished and the medals they have earned.”
The athletes were even recognized in a special announcement at a school assembly by Pavichevich.
“As an educator I saw so much growth in each one of the athletes,” says Ward. “The independent living skills, social skills and visual/motor planning that took place are more than ever could be accomplished in a classroom at the rate it occurred.”
The Amundsen High School Special Olympics team will have the opportunity to make more friends and earn additional medals at the 2016 Winter Games beginning Feb. 2.
“All the coaches who went [to the qualifier] will have many memories, but I think we can agree the best was at the end when our athletes, along with all the other athletes that competed, were shaking each other’s hands and congratulating each other on their medals,” says Ward.
By Alexandra McMillin, Manager of Communications
The CapAbilities Network, an associate network within Capital One, will be the primary sponsor of the first Chicago Corporate Cup, an inter-company basketball tournament benefitting Special Olympics Illinois. This tournament is different than other corporate competitions; each team will be made up of company participants and Special Olympics athletes. Our goal is two-fold: to introduce the corporate world to “Unified” competition – competitive sports made up of athletes with and without disabilities, and to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois. It is our hope that upon successful completion of the tournament, we can grow in both company reach and geographic reach, with more teams in Chicago and similar tournaments in other cities across the country.
This year’s tournament will take place on Friday, February 5th in the Recreation Center on DePaul University’s campus. Five Chicagoland companies will take part (tentative list): Capital One, Accenture, Baxter Pharmaceuticals, Deloitte, and Resolution Life – each with “guest players” from Special Olympics Illinois.
Donation tier info:
- $100 = recognized as a “sponsor” in our program.
- $500 – recognized as a “primary sponsor” on the event jerseys
- $1,000 – recognized as an “event sponsor” on the large banner at the event
Join us for a race weekend. Purchase tickets online through the Chicago Speedway.