This page provides Unified Track & Field resources for coaches and schools participating or planning to participate in unified track and field. There are several links to more detailed documents. All of the following information is very valuable and can be shared!
Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Track and Field started in 2015 in Wake County with two schools, Garner and Wakefield High. With the support of the Wake County District Athletic Director, Deran Coe, Wake County Athletics was the first county in North Carolina to endorse Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Track and Field. Since then, Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Track and Field has expanded to nearly 30 schools with over 250 students with and without intellectual disabilities practicing and competing together.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has long been a supporter of Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Track and Field. Special Olympics Unified Track and Field athletes first competed at the NCHSAA State Championships in 2015 in the 4x100m team relay. In 2018, the NCHSAA expanded their partnership with SONC by offering the 4x100m relay and 100m dash at the State Championships meet.
In 2018, Cumberland County Schools (CCS) was the first school district to offer Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Track and Field in all high schools.
SONC looks to continue to grow Unified Track and Field across the state of North Carolina. For more information on how to get started, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Game On: Learn about the divisioning process that differentiates Special Olympics from other sport organizations.
SONC offers competition in 6 different track events, ranging in distances from 100 meters to 800 meters, as well as 2 field events. This range of events allows athletes of all ability levels the opportunity to train and compete successfully to the best of their abilities.
Unified Track and Field teams must have a separate head coach responsible for leading the team. The head coach must be an adult who is not currently enrolled as a student at the school. Coaches may be a current teacher or other sports coach at the school or hired from outside the school. It is the school’s responsibility to abide by current school policy regarding outside coaches. Students are eligible to assist in coaching duties during the season.
Special Olympics North Carolina requires all Unified Track and Field coaches to complete the following trainings.
|Training Requirement||Renewal Requirement||Send to|
|Special Olympics North Carolina Volunteer Screening Form||N/Aemail@example.com
fax to 919.719.7663
|Protective Behaviors||Every 3 years||N/A|
|Concussion Training||Every 3 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|SONC General Orientation Study Guide||N/A||N/A|
|Coaching Unified Sports||N/Aemail@example.com|
In addition to the coach education requirements, coaches are expected to:
- Manage track practice for both the Special Olympics athletes and the Unified Partners (traditional education students) throughout the regular track season.
- Regularly communicate with SONC regarding participation and competition schedule.
- Hold team practices at least 3 times per week.
- Submit required athlete and Unified partner paperwork before the first practice.
- Submit meet registration and rosters by the proposed deadline.
- Serve as liaison with the school at which you are coaching for further development of the program.
- Accompany the Unified track team to the countywide meet. (If athletes qualify)
- Accompany the Unified track team to the statewide meet. (If athletes qualify)
- Compete in at least 2 dual meet between other schools participating in Unified Track and Field.
- Participate in a post-season evaluation to provide feedback for future planning.
- Be available to share your experience with other coaches and schools.
Coaches must complete a memo of understanding (MOU) each year applicable for that track season. Any questions regarding coach requirements may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to find your coach certification status.
This step by step guide will assist in starting a Special Olympics Unified Track and Field team at your school. Follow these steps to start the program at your school. Remember to reference the Unified Track and Field resource page for more information.
Step 1: Express interest with SONC and meet with the school Athletic Director
Date: December 1
- Express interest of starting a Unified Track and Field team to Special Olympics North Carolina. If interested, contact email@example.com. Once SONC has been contacted, meet with the school Athletic Director.
- Introduce Special Olympics Unified Track and Field to Athletic Director.
- Special Olympics Unified Track and Field is an additional athletic team within the school.
- Obtain approval from Athletic Director before moving to step 2.
Step 2: Identify the head coach
Date: December 15
- Once the Athletic Director has approved the team, it is time to start looking for the leader of the Unified Track and Field team.
- The head coach must be an adult who is not enrolled as a student at the school. Coaches do not have to be from the Special Education department. Schools may allow a coach from outside the school to lead the team but must receive approval from school administration.
Step 3: Complete Coach Requirements
Date: January 31
- Head coaches must complete the coach requirements set forth by Special Olympics North Carolina.
Step 4: Start recruiting the team
- Use social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook) to inform the student population of the team.
- Utilize school announcements, newsletters, email communications to reach student population and parents.
- The coach should meet with the Special Education department to provide team information to students and parents.
- Unified Track and Field teams must have a proportionate number of students with and without an intellectual disability.
Step 5: Create a team practice schedule
- Work with the Athletic Director and/or varsity track coach to establish a Unified Track and Field practice schedule.
- Teams must practice after school at least 3 times per week.
- Unified Track and Field team should practice alongside the varsity track team, sharing the track and field areas.
Step 6: Create a team competition schedule
- Work with Athletic Director and varsity track coaches to establish a schedule
- Teams must compete in at least 2 dual meets per season
- Unified Track teams should compete at already scheduled school meets against schools with Unified teams.
- Contact the competing school’s Unified Track and Field coach/Athletic Director to confirm meet.
Step 7: Hold an interest meeting for students and parents
Date: January 20
- Invite interested and potential participants and their parents to learn more about the program.
- Have practice and competition schedule complete prior to this meeting.
*Send your interest meeting dates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 8: Submit required student-athlete paperwork to Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC)
Date: February 15
- Unified partners must have a completed SONC Unified partner form prior to the start of practice.
- Special Olympics athletes (students with an intellectual disability) must have an Athlete Participation form complete prior to start of practice.
- No forms = no practice = no exceptions
- Send completed paperwork to email@example.com prior to the first practice
Step 9: Start practice
- Set team expectations at beginning of the season with all students.
Step 10: Time to compete
- The expectation should be that all team members attend scheduled meets.
- Make sure team has proper school uniforms and equipment ready for each meet.
- Teams must adhere to rules set forth by NFHS, NCHSAA and Special Olympics North Carolina.
- Compete in dual meets in March. Teams must compete in at least two meets per season.
- Compete in county/conference meets in April.
- The NCHSAA State Championships are held in May. Athletes and Unified partners must qualify to compete.
Criteria For Advancement
Unified Track & Field athletes and Unified partners may qualify for participation in the NCHSAA State Championships track meet. Athletes and Unified partners must compete in their county or conference meet to become eligible. Official results from county and/or conference meets in the following events will be used to determine qualification.
Top 4 Special Olympics athletes 100m dash times
Top 4 Unified partner 100m dash times
Top 8 4x100m relay team times
Participants who qualify will be notified by SONC, at the conclusion of all statewide county and conference meets. If an athlete is unable to compete, the athlete, Unified partner, or relay team with the next fastest time will qualify.
*Qualification standards and events are subject to change due to factors outside of Special Olympics North Carolina control.
Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) Unified Track & Field fosters an inclusive sport participation opportunity to all students within a school. Therefore, SONC Unified Track & Field follows NCHSAA eligibility rules concerning Unified Track & Field participants with one exception listed below. For more information regarding eligibility rules and guidelines contact your school Athletic Director. Further information is also available on the NCHSAA website.
Schools are responsible for following NCHSAA eligibility rules. The school Unified Track & Field program should be treated as any other sport within the schools athletic department.
Physical Forms Requirements
Starting August 1st, 2019 students with and without intellectual disabilities will not be required to complete Special Olympics North Carolina medical forms. The NCHSAA physical form will now be accepted and will be required for all students in order to participate, regardless of classification.*
*For students WITH an intellectual disability (Special Olympics athlete) who turn 19 on or before August 31st, 2019.
- Must complete the Special Olympics athlete participation packet.
- Can still practice and compete