More than 700 athletes from around Wisconsin will make their way to Waukesha to compete in bocce, tennis and softball during the 2017 Outdoor Sports Tournament at Carroll University and Saratoga Softball Complex on August 4 and 5.
This year’s Outdoor Sports Tournament (OST) features several changes that organizers and athletes are looking forward to experiencing. One major change is that the OST has returned to being a two-day event instead of one. The additional day is so that athletes can enjoy a couple new features on Friday night to kick off the tournament in proper style.
This year, at 7 pm on Friday, the OST will feature an Opening Ceremony for the first time in several years. It’s only fitting that long-time Summer Games emcee, Milwaukee television personality and SOWI Board of Directors Chair-Elect Vince Vitrano kick off the return of the Opening Ceremony as the emcee.
Immediately after the Opening Ceremony, another new and exciting element of the OST will begin. Unified Bocce will happen for the first time ever when SOWI athletes and partners join together in competition.
Unified Sports, inspired by a simple principle that training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship, acceptance and understanding, combines individuals both with and without intellectual disabilities together in sports.
This new event has many people in the SOWI community excited. “I’m really looking forward to the addition of Unified Bocce,” Jason Blank, the tournament organizer said. “I can’t wait to see how athletes and partners can work together in the true spirit of inclusion and ‘Playing Unified.’”
The new format also has athletes like Joey Sosnowski, of the Stevens Point Area YMCA Eagles, excited. Returning with his bocce team for his third consecutive OST, Sosnowski is really looking forward to the new Opening Ceremony and Unified Bocce on Friday. But when asked what he’s most looking forward to, the 2015 gold medalist said, “competition with my team and friends.”
Blank is thankful that the community has yet again been so supportive of athletes like Sosnowski and the many friends he gets to compete with. “I’m so glad we get to have this tournament here in the Greater Milwaukee Area,” Blank said. “And the City of Waukesha and Carroll University continue to welcome our athletes with open arms. I love seeing the community come together to support this great event and mission.”
The OST will also include a Family Health Forum on Friday evening before the Opening Ceremony where SOWI athletes and their families will get to learn about strategies for staying healthy and fit. Then, on Saturday SOWI athletes will be able to take advantage of Healthy Athletes during the tournament. Any SOWI athlete with a medical record of file can attend Healthy Athletes, even if they’re not competing in the OST competition.
Fans are encouraged to come out and cheer on our athletes during the OST competitions. If you are interested in volunteering or would like updates, scores and photos from the Outdoor Sports Tournament please visit the Outdoor Sports Tournament webpage or check out SOWI’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See you in Waukesha!