Nearly 500 athletes from around the state will make their way to Waukesha to compete in bocce, tennis and softball during the 2021 Outdoor Sports Tournament at Carroll University and Saratoga Softball Complex on Saturday, August 7.
After nearly a year and a half with limited in-person Special Olympics action due to COVID-19, these athletes representing 29 local programs from all regions of the state are excited and ready to compete once again.
Kicking it off in style
The Outdoor Sports Tournament (OST) will kick off on Saturday with simultaneous Opening Ceremonies taking place at 8:40 a.m. in Carroll University’s Schneider Stadium and at the Saratoga Softball Complex. Competition in all three sports begins immediately thereafter at 9:00 a.m. During the Opening Ceremonies, officers who support Special Olympics Wisconsin through the Law Enforcement Torch Run will run a “Final Leg,” during which they will carry the Special Olympics torch from the softball complex to Schneider Stadium in a symbolic gesture of Special Olympics Wisconsin’s enduring spirit and relationship with law enforcement.
Softball is the tournament’s largest sport this year, with 220 athletes representing 18 teams at the softball complex. Approximately 200 athletes will compete in bocce in Schneider Stadium and 30 athletes will go for gold at Carroll’s Jean Kilgour Trailblazer Tennis Complex.
“We couldn’t be more excited for the Outdoor Sports Tournament. With nearly 500 athletes coming from around the state, this will easily be our largest tournament since before the pandemic. I know the athletes are all really looking forward to competing with friends from across the state that they haven’t seen in well over a year now,” said Don Wigington, Special Olympics Wisconsin’s VP of Sports & Health Programs. “Between the outdoor nature of the event, high vaccination rates in the Special Olympics Wisconsin community, and rigorous safety precautions in place, we’re confident that this event will be a safe way to return to action for athletes and volunteers alike.”
A new Unified Sport to be demonstrated
This year’s tournament will also feature a new Unified Pickleball demonstration from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., where Special Olympics athletes will pair up with non-athletes for this exciting Unified Sports demonstration. Inspired by a simple principle that training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship, acceptance and understanding, Unified Sports combine individuals both with and without intellectual disabilities together in competition.
Healthy Athletes and OST supporters
Athletes will also be able to take advantage of Healthy Athletes programming on Saturday in between their competitions. Healthy Athletes’ Special Smiles and Fit Feet clinics will consist of free screenings from volunteer dental and podiatry health professionals. These clinics will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Dennis Punches Track & Field Complex. Even Special Olympics athletes who are not competing in the tournament can take advantage of Healthy Athletes clinics.
The OST is possible in large part thanks to our State Sponsors: the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Carroll University, Waukesha County, WIAA Softball Officials, and Marquette Dental School. The Special Olympics community across the state is very grateful to them for everything they do for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes.
Special Olympics Wisconsin still needs additional volunteers to help escort athletes, present awards, or score events. For additional details, call (608) 222-1324 or visit SpecialOlympicsWisconsin.org.