At the August 6 Outdoor Sports Tournament, hundreds of athletes will gather to go for the gold in bocce, tennis, softball and golf at Carroll University, Saratoga Baseball Complex and Moor Downs Golf Course. Golf athletes have the unique opportunity to compete individually or Play Unified with a partner in a nine-hole, alternate shot game.
Play Unified, inspired by a simple principle that training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding, combines individuals both with and without intellectual disabilities together in sports.
Excited to qualify for their first state games, Unified golf partners, Ken Kuemmerlein and Ryon Knodl, from West Allis started playing together this past year. Kummerlin and Knodl competed in the Region 6 District Golf Tournament earlier this month scoring below 65 to advance to the Outdoor Sports Tournament.
Kuemmerlein has been playing golf for 25 years recreationally and also coaches other Special Olympics sports, but was excited when Knodl wanted to pick up golf and needed a unified partner. “I coached him in basketball and track and when I found out he wanted to play golf I wanted to make sure he had the opportunity.”
“It’s nice having a partner when playing unified, it help takes the pressure off,” said SOWI athlete Knodl.
“The fun and enjoyment of playing sports is something that unites everyone. Everybody can benefit from the lessons sports teaches us, and Unified Sports teaches that the emphasis should be on the effort given and not necessarily the outcome,” stated Kuemmerlein. “For me it’s a chance to pass along joy to Ryon that I’ve always gotten from playing with my friends.”
Currently, 50 U.S. Special Olympics Programs offer golf training and competition, and more than 18,000 athletes participate in golf competitions in Special Olympics in North America. Golf is one of 30 Olympic-style sports offered by Special Olympics in more than 170 countries worldwide.
Athletes can also participate in the Family Health Forum on Friday, August 5th and Healthy Athletes on Saturday, August 6th during the Outdoor Sports Tournament. Fans are encouraged to come out and cheer on our athletes during the 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.