Region Sport Events Stories

Special Olympics Illinois Area 3/Chicago Basketball Competitions


Athletes from across the city of Chicago competed in a variety of both Basketball Teams and Individual Basketball Skills competitions for the chance to win the Gold Medal and advance to the State Basketball Tournament in March!

Area 3/Chicago hosted 8 days of basketball competitions, which allowed approximately 2,000 Chicago athletes to compete.  Athletes were divided by both age group and regional location to accommodate the growing participation numbers in the sport and allow for quality competition at all events.

These events would not have been possible without the substantial support of volunteers!  The facilities that hosted these various events were also beyond accommodating and welcoming to our athletes, coaches, volunteers, and fans!  Thank you to University of Chicago, Quest MultiSport, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, The Kroc Center, and Northeastern Illinois University for the continued support and generosity. And thank you to Jackson National Life Insurance for their contribution to support Special Olympics Illinois Area 3/Chicago basketball competitions!

Congratulations to all Chicago athletes who competed in Basketball this year!  Approximately 300 athletes from 30 different Chicago delegations will be heading to Normal, Illinois in March to compete in 2017 State Basketball!  Best of luck at the State Basketball Tournament!

Tech Athletics Hosts Special Olympics High School Basketball


Originally posted by the Illinois Institute of Technology

CHICAGO, Ill. – Last Wednesday and Thursday, the Illinois Institute of Technology Athletic Department and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee played host to Special Olympics Chicago High School Basketball. The two-day event held in the Keating Sports Center featured approximately 375 athletes on both days. 

The event was one of around 40 tournaments SOILL holds each year, allowing an opportunity for over 6,000 athletes a chance to compete. Last week’s tournament event in the Keating Sports Center served as a qualifier for the state tournament held in March at Illinois State University.

“Hosting the tournament with Special Olympics is important to us,” said Athletic Director Joe Hakes. “Serving these young men and women who put so much passion into their games is a joy to watch.  We look forward to a continuing and enhanced relationship with Special Olympics through our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.”

Over 30 Scarlet Hawk student-athletes volunteered for the event through Illinois Tech’s SAAC. As the event concluded, it was clear the participants themselves were not the only ones who enjoyed the event.

“Seeing the faces of the athletes light up as they competed on the court was as rewarding as it one would imagine,” said SAAC member and women’s lacrosse student-athlete Cassandra Reineke. “In knowing the feeling of competing on the court or field as a student-athlete, it is even more rewarding to be able to help create that feeling in others!”

“We are extremely grateful to Illinois Tech Athletics for its continued support of Special Olympics in Chicago,” said Dani Chitwood, Manager of Program Operations for Special Olympics Illinois Area 3. “We truly hope that our relationship continues over the years.”

Illinois College Students Volunteer at District Basketball, Make Posters for Athletes


Illinois College in Jacksonville has a long history of hosting the District Basketball Tournament. The event on Jan. 19 was a collaborative effort between student groups on campus, as well as student-athletes who volunteered their time.

The Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) was responsible for the set-up and tear-down, as well volunteering in roles such as time- and score-keepers. In all, more than 70 Illinois College students volunteered at the District G Basketball Tournament.

“Just as years in the past, this basketball tournament is a wonderful experience for all those involved,” said Sarah Phillips, an Illinois College athletics staff member and advisor for SAAC.  “I know our student volunteers truly enjoy working this event. It is a blast watching the games and seeing the excitement of all of the athletes participating.”

In addition to volunteering at the tournament, members of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity made posters for all the Special Olympics teams competing at the tournament.

headshot_1_Ashley_Roller 2014“I wanted to do the posters because I know how awesome it was, in high school and even now in college, to have my name on a poster or to see the team’s name,” said Ashley Roller, an Illinois College senior, President of SAAC and a APO member who has volunteered at the basketball tournament every year she’s been in college. “I wanted the athletes to have the same feeling when they are playing. I asked the (APO) members to help make the posters so that others could get involved.”

“I had no idea they were doing this,” said Darrin Burnett, Area Director of SOILL Sangamon/Area 17. “I was there hanging banners and doing some other set-up work the night before and ran into Ashley and the students. I was amazed at their generosity. It was 7 p.m. on a Saturday night. Ashley and her friends gave up part of a Saturday night to do this.” Burnett himself was a1993 graduate of Illinois College Alphi Phi Omega.

The posters were definitely a hit at the tournament. “People loved the posters,” said Phillips. “All day, people either came up to me or I overheard people saying how wonderful the posters looked and what a great idea it was. I think the teams really enjoyed them as well as I saw a number of the teams walk over to the wall at the end of the day to retrieve their poster to take home with them. Some athletes and teams also posed for pictures with their poster.”

District Signs“I had one team come up to me and say that they were going to win now, because of the posters,” said Roller.

Phillips said the SAAC will continue to assist in putting the tournament on in the future. “This will continue to be an annual event here at Illinois College.”

Roller echoed that sentiment. “I look forward to this every winter,” she said. “Watching the athletes compete and truly love the game and help each other – nothing is better to watch as an athlete!”

Special Olympics has been something Roller’s been involved with since she started at Illinois College and something she looks forward to continuing in the future. “I did not have a personal connection to the program before, but some of the athletes that play for the Chatham teams are friends of mine now and I have known them for a long time. The Jacksonville teams have also come and worked on skills with different teams at Illinois College.”