Sports Highlight

The 2017 Team Bowling State Tournament took place on Saturday and Sunday, October 21st and 22nd in Columbus at both Sawmill and Holiday Lanes. The bowling event featured Traditional Doubles, Team, and Unified Team divisions with nearly 1000 athletes taking part!! The top scores in each division were: Traditional Doubles- Franklin NW #1 (Cody Parker and Kenneth Wilcox) 660, Traditional Team- Summit #1 (Juan Willis, Marlon Difiglio, Aaron Wickland, and Robert Brosch) 1305, Unified Team- Tuscarawas #3 (Donovan Nolan, Dana Digenova, Jonathon Wheeler, and Michael Johnson) 1163.

Congratulations to all the teams on their games and the way in which you celebrated each other’s performances throughout the tournament!!

Coming Soon

November State-Level Events—On Saturday, November 4th, we will have our first ever Flag Football tournament in Madison County. If you are interested in starting a flag football program, I suggest you come out and watch and learn! It will take place beginning at 9:30am at 510 Elm Street, London, OH 43130 (Fairhaven School). We have 11 Adult Traditional and 3 Youth Traditional Teams registered and each team will play a minimum two games.

Featured Topic

Lindsay’s Law (Ohio Revised Code 3313.5310) – this is a new law in Ohio to increase awareness of SCA – Sudden Cardiac Arrest in athletes age 19 and under and I encourage all coaches to review the handout and YouTube video. Please be sure that every athlete in your program has a current physical and are cleared to participate in Special Olympics. To access the online training material for Lindsay’s Law, please click here.

The resources above are provided by the Ohio Department of Health and should be reviewed on an annual basis. There are no completion certificates issued for this training unless you are a licensed educator in the State of Ohio. If that applies to you and you have not already heard of how to complete your training, please contact your school administrator.

Athlete Fitness/Wellness

The Air Squat. Seems simple, but there is actually a lot involved to do it properly. Most Americans tend to develop weak hamstrings (on the back of their legs) due to sitting for long periods of time. It’s time to stretch those hamstrings. The hamstrings are a vital link to the posterior chain of muscles which include the glutes. Take some time each day to perform a few sets of air squats, begin by trying 3 sets of 10, then work your way up as you feel more comfortable and build strength and flexibility. Try to squat below parallel with knees out, so that your hip crease is below the top of your knee as viewed from the side. Squatting below parallel transfers the load from your knees to your hamstrings, where much more muscle mass exists (your “go” muscles!) Air squats are a great way to warm your athletes up and requires no equipment. Make November SQUAT MONTH! Here’s a resource with more specifics on proper form and fixes.

Certification Corner

During last month’s Special Olympics Ohio Leadership Conference, a brand new option to become a “Special Olympics Ohio Certified Coach” was previewed and it is something I believe all head and assistant coaches should strive to become as they gain experience within our sports programs. This will only further enhance the reputation and professionalism within our coaching ranks. This program will begin January 1st! Here are the requirements and answers to frequently asked questions

  • Current First Aid/CPR Certification – through American Red Cross or American Heart Assoc.
  • Protective Behaviors Course – Online
  • Concussion Prevention and Identification Course – Online
  • Complete the SOOH volunteer screening process with positive result
  • Complete a course on the basics of teaching and coaching Special Olympics athletes. (Coaching Special Olympics Athletes Course)
  • Complete an industry-approved course on teaching and coaching their primary sport. (See FAQs below for more info) – OR – The Principles of Coaching Course offered by West Virginia University (approx. 30 hours to complete, offered through Special Olympics North America)
  • Accumulate THREE years of experience coaching Special Olympics Athletes as either a Head Coach or Assistant Coach. The clock does NOT begin on January 1st, all past experience counts.
  • Receive endorsement from his/her Local Coordinator as having fulfilled the above criteria, as well as general screening approval as a fully qualified and dedicated coach to work with Special Olympics athletes.

The goals of the criteria above are to provide the coach with a general understanding and knowledge of Special Olympics; specifics on teaching and coaching the Special Olympics athlete; general and Special Olympics sport rules and coaching pedagogy; and attesting to their personal character and dedication.

All completion certificates and Local Coordinator endorsement should be packaged together and sent to me at the state office for review. I will send all Local Coordinators a copy of the form required along with a sizing chart to order your Special Olympics Ohio Certified Coach black polo shirt. I will send or deliver the shirt to you in person, depending on my travel schedule. Bottom line, this is a big deal!!!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: I have been involved with Special Olympics as a coach for some time and last month was the first time I heard about this as being an option. Is this something new?

A: The Ohio-specific certification program is all new, but the courses, all online, have been around for a while. Ohio coaches are a bit behind when it comes to compliance with completing these courses. We need to change that.

Q: Is this required for all head coaches? What is the benefit?

A: It is not required but strongly encouraged for all head coaches and assistant coaches. The training does not require a huge commitment of time, but is imperative to help build your coaching acumen and effectiveness. Plus, there is a super cool black Reebok polo shirt involved, embroidered with Special Olympics Ohio Certified Coach. Who wouldn’t want one?!?

Q: Where will training be held, is there a set schedule?

A: This is an “on your own” training in that you can access the training anywhere, anytime, when it is convenient for you, not us. Access the coaches’ resources link under the last question and you are off and running!

Q: What is considered an “industry-approved course in teaching/coaching a sport”? Is there a list or a resource where we can find these types of trainings? Does it need to be SOOH approved first?

A: You can find a variety of sports industry-approved courses by conducting a Google search for “Certification Program (insert name of your favorite sport to coach)”. For it to be worth the time for you to study and complete the testing requirements, do some research on the certification acceptance and pass rates. You may already have one of these certs if you have been coaching in your sport for a while! If you are unsure about whether a particular program would count, just shoot me an email at and I will review before you enroll. Make sure it’s a sport that we actually offer, please! I know a lot of you out there are creative. The Principles of Coaching Course is available online and FREE, so it will give you a general understanding and certification, nothing sport-specific.

Q: If we want to do a sport-specific course and certification and there is a fee involved, can we be reimbursed for those fees?

A: Special Olympics Ohio will not reimburse you for fees incurred for a sport specific course since we have a free course which meets the same requirement for certification. If your local chapter wishes to reimburse you for your program completion, that decision is at their sole discretion.

Q: Are all the coaches’ shirts unisex, or do we have a men’s and women’s sizing option?

A: I am ordering both men’s and women’s shirts for the new year. They look awesome.

Q: Is there a “one stop shop”-type resource where I can go to access all of the online courses offered to coaches through Special Olympics? 

A: You got it

Quote to Remember

Special Olympics evens the playing field for people with disabilities, and the whole environment is about celebrating each other. Contrary to what the general public believes about sports, it is encouraging, not competitive, even though medals are given out. It’s hard to describe, and if you’ve ever attended a Special Olympics event, you understand what I mean. Of course, everyone wants a medal, but at these matches, the whole thing is a celebration, not just the medals.

~Nikki Heiman, Author at Think Inclusive

Remember to ALWAYS have your Athlete’s and Partner’s Application for Participation and Release Forms in your possession while training, traveling and/or competing. Should a medical event occur, those forms will be necessary for the athlete to receive treatment!

I hope everyone has an opportunity to reflect on what they are most thankful for this upcoming holiday. All of us at Special Olympics Ohio are thankful for each and every one of YOU, our coaches, and the difference you make, with each and every athlete. You are the lifeblood of this organization. THANK YOU!!