Special Olympics Unified Partners Golf in the Sunshine State

November 14, 2016

8210Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete Alison Mushett, along with Unified Sports partner and Special Olympics coach Kacey Esser, participated in their first Golf Invitational earlier last month in Florida. At the noted PGA Golf Village in Port St. Lucie, they represented Team Wisconsin in the 17th Annual Special Olympics North American Golf National Championships.

“We were ecstatic to get the opportunity to play in the SONA invite,” Esser said.

Unified Sports® is a program of Special Olympics that combines approximately equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disability on sports teams for training and competition. More than 1.2 million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down the stereotypes about those with intellectual disabilities through the power of sports.

Esser and Mushett first met when Esser coached volleyball for West Madison Special Olympics. Esser, who has played golf since she was 5, teamed up with Mushett this past summer to teach her the sport.

Then they competed in the State Outdoor Sports Tournament in Waukesha in August, placing second in their respective division.

Finally came the event in Florida. “The highlight of the trip for me was seeing what an amazing group of people that this event brought together,” Esser said. “It was inspiring to see the dedication that the athletes and their partners have to this organization (Special Olympics). I felt so lucky to be a part of it all!”


Esser became involved in Special Olympics by helping her sister coach volleyball in the Madison area. “The athletes’ positivity and excitement that they had at every practice was infectious and I fell in love with coaching!” she said. “I began participating as a Unified partner in the I-TRI Indoor Triathlon the past two years and thought it was a really excellent way to bring athletes and non-athletes together in a fun, competitive environment.”

Mushett and Esser plan to continue playing unified in the future because of their experience in Florida.

”I had a lot of fun golfing on the PGA Golf Course,” Mushett said. “It was fun to compete with athletes from all over. (Playing Unified) is a good way to compete in sports because you have a partner to help you.”

Special Olympics Wisconsin’s next unified event will take place on December 10th as part of the Special Olympics Rivalry Basketball Series where SO Colleges UW-Madison will take on Marquette University. Contact Don Wigington for more information.


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