Special Olympics - Bridging The Gap On/Off The Field Through Unified Soccer
This week I’m excited to talk about an amazing organization that is near and dear to my heart. In 2011, Special Olympics Washington partnered with the Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Sounders FC to provide a one of a kind unified soccer league for Seattle Public School students. I’m truly honored to say that I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Seattle Unified Soccer movement from day one as coach of the Special Olympics Chief Sealth H.S. and the S.O. Seattle Sounders FC.
The inaugural season comprised of high school students from Chief Sealth, Nathan Hale, NOVA, Rainier Beach, Ingraham, and West Seattle. Teams were made up of students both with (Special Olympics Athletes) and without (Unified Partners) intellectual disabilities, representing their school in the Seattle Unified Soccer League, regional and state Special Olympics Washington tournaments. In addition, athletes and partners in the SUSL were eligible to participate on the Special Olympics Seattle Sounders team, competing in the Cascadia Championship Series against the Special Olympics Portland Timbers.
In our second year Special Olympics Washington has expanded SUSL by providing opportunities to elementary and middle schools. Special Olympics has partnered with the City of Seattle and their community learning centers to provide elementary / middle schools with this opportunity locally, without registration fees.
As the SUSL gains traction the partnership with the Major League Soccer (MLS) has expanded as well. In addition to the Cascadia Championship Series with the Portland Timbers we now welcome in the Championship Series against the Special Olympics Colorado Rapids. Check out this very cool video from last weekend - Special Olympics: Sounders FC vs. Rapids. In approximately two weeks our Special Olympics Seattle Sounders FC will be flying to Colorado to take part in the 2nd leg of the Championship Series.
Bottom line - If you have a child with or without intellectual / physical disabilities and you’re looking into purchasing real estate in Seattle you now have one more compelling reason to strongly consider Seattle. Special Olympics Washington is truly a pioneer with the integration of Unified Sports partnering with Seattle Public Schools. In my two years of involvement I’m personally invested and I can proudly say, Special Olympics is now a part of me!