State Championships

Special Olympics Illinois hosts 11 State Championships each year across the state. Athletes can participate at the state level by earning a gold medal in their regional qualifying tournament.

WINTER GAMES

Winter Games is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for alpine skiing and snowshoeing.  Winter Games are a 3 day event and are held the first week of February in Galena.  Winter Games includes approximately 400 athletes, 170 coaches and 300 volunteers.  Additional activities include an Opening Ceremony in downtown Galena, family registration and activity opportunities, souvenir sales and Victory Dances.  Chestnut Mountain has been the host venue since 1979 with additional Galena hotels providing housing for agencies since 2004.  Alpine skiing became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 1979 and snowshoeing in 2002.  

IHSA UNIFIED BASKETBALL STATE TOURNAMENT

Unified Basketball is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in high school Unified basketball.  Participation is limited to teams from registered Unified Champion Schools that are also IHSA member schools. Teams qualify for the Unified Basketball State Tournament by winning regional tournaments held across the state.   Unified Basketball is a 2 day event and is held in conjunction with the IHSA Boys State Basketball Tournament that is usually the second or third week of March.  The tournament includes 8 teams competing in 2 divisions.  The Peoria Civic Center has hosted the tournament since 2016 but the site could change.  The IHSA is reviewing proposals to determine if the tournament location will change.  Unified basketball became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 2016.

STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

State Basketball is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in team and individual skills basketball.  The Young Athletes Program offers an individual skills demonstration opportunity.  State Basketball is a 3 day event usually held the second or third weekend of March in Bloomington-Normal.  The State Basketball Tournament includes approximately 1900 athletes, 550 coaches and 350 volunteers.  Additional activities include Victory Dances and athlete centered activities on Friday and Saturday nights, family registration and souvenir sales.  Illinois State University’s Horton Fieldhouse has hosted the tournament since 1975 and the tournament expanded to include Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center in 2002.  Basketball became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 1975

SUMMER GAMES

Summer Games is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for athletics, bocce, Unified bocce, powerlifting, soccer, swimming, artistic gymnastics, and rhythmic gymnastics.  The Young Athletes Program offers soccer individual skills, 50 meter run and softball throw demonstration opportunities.  Summer Games are a 3 day event usually held the second weekend in June in Bloomington-Normal.  Summer Games includes approximately 4000 athletes, 60 Unified partners, 1750 coaches and 2500 volunteers. 

Additional activities include an Opening Ceremony featuring the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, a variety of Healthy Athlete initiatives, family registration and activity opportunities, an Olympic Town offering a variety of interactive activities, souvenir sales and a Victory Dance held in Uptown Normal.  Illinois State University has been the primary host venue since 1977 and, as the Games have grown, additional venues include Kingsley Junior High School, Normal West High School and Illinois Wesleyan University.  Athletics and swimming became official Special Olympics Illinois sports in 1968, artistic gymnastics in 1975, soccer in 1977, powerlifting in 1986, rhythmic gymnastics in 1996, bocce in 1997 and Unified bocce in 2002.

STATE TENNIS TOURNAMENT

State Tennis is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in tennis, Unified tennis and individual skills.  State Tennis is a 2 day event usually held the third or fourth weekend of August in Bloomington.  The State Tennis Tournament includes approximately 110 athletes, 20 Unified partners, 50 coaches and 110 volunteers.  Additional activities include an Opening Ceremony, bowling and a pizza party on Saturday night, family registration and souvenir sales.  Evergreen Racquet Club became the event host in 2016.  Tennis became an official Special Olympics Sport in 1986 and Unified tennis in 2002.

OUTDOOR SPORTS FESTIVAL

The Outdoor Sports Festival is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in softball, softball individual skills, golf, Unified golf and golf individual skills.  The Young Athletes Program offers individual skills demonstration opportunities in softball and golf.  The Festival is a 2 day event usually held the second weekend of September in Decatur and Forsyth. The Outdoor Sports Festival includes approximately 575 athletes, 25 Unified partners, 225 coaches and 525 volunteers.  Additional activities include Healthy Athlete Initiatives, an Opening Ceremony and parade held in downtown Decatur, family registration, a family reception, a dinner and Victory Dance at the Civic Center and souvenir sales.  Hickory Point Golf Course has hosted the golf venue since 2007 and Rotary Park has hosted the softball venue since 2006.   Softball became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 1977, golf in 1997 and Unified golf in 2002.

FALL GAMES

Fall Games is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in equestrian, volleyball, modified volleyball, Unified volleyball and volleyball individual skills.  The Young Athletes Program offers an individual skills demonstration opportunity in volleyball.  The Games are a 2 day event usually held the third or fourth weekend of October in Machesney Park and Polar Grove.  Fall Games includes approximately 600 athletes, 45 Unified partners, 275 coaches and 400 volunteers.  Additional activities include Healthy Athlete initiatives, an Opening Ceremony, family registration, a family dessert reception, a Halloween themed Victory Dance and souvenir sales.  Harlem High School has hosted volleyball activities since 2002 and Bravehearts at the Bergmann Centre has hosted equestrian since 2012.  Volleyball became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 1977, equestrian in 1990 and Unified volleyball in 2007.

UNIFIED SOCCER STATE TOURNAMENT

Unified Soccer is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in Unified soccer.  Participation is limited to teams with players in the middle school through college age range.  Unified Soccer is a 1 day event usually held the first Saturday in November.  Teams advance to the state tournament by winning a gold medal at one of the regional competitions.   A typical tournament includes approximately 85 athletes, 65 Unified partners, 30  coaches and 35  volunteers.  The Schaumburg Indoor Sports Center has hosted the tournament since 2019. Unified soccer became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 2014.

STATE FLAG FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT 

State Flag Football is 1 of 11 state sports competitions.  It is the championship level competition for those participating in flag football and Unified flag football.  State Flag Football is a 2 day event usually held the first weekend of November in Pekin.   The State Flag Football Tournament includes approximately 185 athletes, 10 Unified partners, 60 coaches and 100 volunteers.  Additional activities include an Opening Ceremony, a dinner and Victory Dance on Saturday night, family registration and souvenir sales.  The Avanti’s Dome hosts the tournament.  Flag football and Unified flag football became official Special Olympics Illinois sports in 2018.

STATE FLOOR HOCKEY TOURNAMENT 

State Floor Hockey is 1 of 11 state sports competitions. It is the championship level competition for those participating in team and individual skills floor hockey.  State Floor Hockey is currently a 1 day event usually held the second or third Saturday in Chicago. The State Floor Hockey Tournament includes approximately 375 athletes, 110 coaches and 150 volunteers.   Additional activities include an Opening Ceremony, Healthy Athlete offerings, family registration and souvenir sales.  The current host is Northeastern Illinois University.  Floor hockey became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 1975.

*To accommodate growth, new venues in Chicago are being researched and the expansion to a 2 day event is being considered.

STATE BOWLING TOURNAMENT

State Bowling is 1 of 11 state sports competitions. It is the championship level competition for those participating in bowling.  State Bowling is a 1 day event usually held the first Saturday in Peoria.  The State Bowling Tournament includes approximately 250 athletes, 130 coaches and 175 volunteers.  Additional activities include an Opening Ceremony, family registration and souvenir sales.  Landmark Lanes has hosted the tournament since 1989.  Bowling became an official Special Olympics Illinois sport in 1975.