Special Olympics Wisconsin’s State Indoor Sports Tournament will be unveiling a new format next month at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh that focuses on bringing 20 additional basketball teams to the tournament.
Although the Indoor Sports Tournament has been taking place annually for more than 40 years now, the 2017 tournament happening the weekend of April 8-9 will now include 56 teams from across the state instead of 36 and will be a team basketball-only event. Nearly 600 athletes are expected to participate and every region of Special Olympics Wisconsin will be represented in the USA Games-qualifying tournament.
“We are looking forward to seeing this new format in action. The addition of 20 more teams to the Indoor Sports Tournament is exciting and should give many more athletes who love basketball the chance to experience a statewide competition. So many athletes in Special Olympics Wisconsin love basketball that it just made sense to make this change,” said Mark Wolfgram, tournament director and director of field services for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
There is so much demand that many groups had to get split into multiple teams. For example, there are Badgers, Lakers, Rebels and Comets, all representing MCM of Manitowoc in region 5. And there are three teams from Appleton in region 4 representing SOAR FC: the Bandits, Hawks and Vultures. The tournament will also be featuring the Western Racine City Purple Divas, the only all-female team in the state.
In addition to involving many more athletes in the basketball tournament, this new format is a great way to expose more athletes to Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athletes program, which gives the athletes access to eye exams, dental screenings and hearing exams. In fact, the Indoor Sports Tournament helps more athletes get these critical screenings than any Special Olympics Wisconsin event outside of the Summer Games.
Despite the changes to the format of the Indoor Sports Tournament, one thing that certainly isn’t changing is the venue. UW-Oshkosh has been the location of the event since 1976. “We want to thank the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for their continued support of this event. They do an outstanding job in making this happen every year,” Wolfgram said.
So mark your calendar for the second week of April and get yourself to Oshkosh to watch some fantastic and truly entertaining basketball. And if you can’t make it, you can donate to help make sure Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes can continue to experience the joys and benefits of sports in the future.