MADISON, Wis. (PRESS RELEASE) – Special Olympics Wisconsin’s State Indoor Sports Tournament will be returning to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on April 7 and 8 with some exciting new elements that will mean more basketball for more players.
After some major changes last year that increased the number of teams competing in the tournament from 36 to 56, this year’s tournament will again add more players by including a 3 vs. 3 Unified basketball tournament. The Unified tournament will be composed of teams that include SOWI athletes with intellectual disabilities (ID) and Unified partners without ID. It will take place on Saturday, April 7 in Albee Hall on campus.
The new format will also increase basketball play in the traditional tournament that takes place in the Kolf Sports Center. Tournament play has been moved to a round-robin format, so each team will play three games within their division instead of two. This year’s tournament will also feature an exciting exhibition game played by Team Wisconsin’s basketball team. They will be heading to Seattle this summer for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
“This is going to be a really exciting year for us in state basketball. Last year’s changes were well received and we think these changes this year are going to make for an even more enjoyable event. The addition of the Unified tournament will give more people who love basketball a chance to participate, including Unified partners,” said Mark Wolfgram, tournament director and Senior Director of Field Services for Special Olympics Wisconsin. “Agencies are excited for the new round-robin format and of course the cherry on top will be the USA Games athletes showcasing their skills for the crowd in the exhibition game.”
An athlete from Cuba City goes up high for a rebound in a game against Eau Claire during the 2017 IST
Special Olympics Wisconsin’s Healthy Athletes program, which gives the athletes access to free eye exams, dental screenings and hearing exams, will be returning as a core feature of the Indoor Sports Tournament. SOWI athletes in attendance – even those not competing – will be able to get screened through Healthy Athletes at the Gruenhagen Conference Center. 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.
“Our University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus and the Department of Residence Life Conference Services team have been hosting the Special Olympics Wisconsin Indoor Sports Tournament for over 35 consecutive years. It is difficult to put into words the privilege and honor it has been for us to host this tournament over that period of time. Special Olympics Wisconsin is an organization that all UW-Oshkosh students, staff, faculty and alumni know and love,” said Marc Nylen, Director of UW-Oshkosh’s Gruenhagen Conference Center. “We will have over 100 of our current students as well as Oshkosh community members volunteering their time to serve the needs of the athletes, coaches and Special Olympics staff. The spirit of sportsmanship is on full display throughout the weekend, and this is something that we value, appreciate and hold in high regard. UW-Oshkosh is the perfect venue and Wisconsin’s Event City: Oshkosh are the ideal hosts for this incredible tournament.”
In addition to hosting the Indoor Sports Tournament, UW-Oshkosh helps facilitate and organize many of the volunteers needed to run this tournament. This year Special Olympics Wisconsin expects over 500 volunteers to participate over the two day tournament. Volunteers from UW-Oshkosh range from students to faculty members, all with one goal in mind – giving back.
Volunteers from across the region also help make this tournament happen every year. Every year, the boys’ lacrosse team of Neenah High School does a fantastic job on Sunday helping in a multitude of ways.
So mark your calendar for April 7 and 8 and get yourself to UW-Oshkosh to watch some truly entertaining basketball or head over to specialolympicswisconsin.org to sign up to volunteer for Special Olympics Wisconsin’s biggest basketball event of the year!