Unified Sports

unified-sports-bocceDedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports® creates an opportunity for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

In Unified Sports, teams join people of similar age and ability, which makes practices fun and games challenging and exciting for all. Teams are made up of approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (called partners). Practicing and competing together is one additional way of eliminating preconceived notions and false impressions.

Participation in Unified Sports® leads to new friendships, improved self-esteem and positive changes in attitude, behavior and performance. The program creates a lasting impact on all those participating and is a great addition to formal and life education.

Special Olympics Iowa offers Unified Sports competition in:

Athletics (Track and Field) Basketball
Bocce Bowling
Cheerleading and Dance Cycling
Figure Skating Flag Football
Golf Snowshoeing
Soccer Softball
Speed Skating Swimming
Tennis Volleyball


Unified Collegiate Intramurals Offered:

  • Basketball (St. Ambrose University, University of Iowa)
  • Flag Football (University of Iowa)
  • Rowing (University of Iowa)
  • Volleyball (Drake University, St. Ambrose University, University of Iowa, )


For more information about Unified Sports, contact:
Bryan Coffey, Director of Unified Programs
515-986-5520 x119

For more information about Unified Collegiate Intramurals, contact:                                  Lexxi O’Brien, Unified Programs Coordinator
515-986-5520 ext. 115

Event Date Event Entries due by Event Location
Oct 8 (all day) Des Moines Public Schools Unified Sports Day Drake Knapp Center (2601 Forest Ave, Des Moines)
Oct 19, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM Upper Iowa University Unified Sports Day 09/20/2019 Dorman Gym & Rec Center- Upper Iowa University Campus, Union St. Fayette
Nov 7, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM Buena Vista University Unified Sports Day 10/04/2019 Lamberti Recreation Center (610 West 4th Street, Storm Lake)
Nov 12, 9:30 AM – 2:00 PM Southwest Area Unified Sports Training Day 10/29/2019 Treynor Community School (102 East Main Street, Treynor)
Dec 7, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM University of Iowa Unified Sports Day 11/07/2019 University of Iowa Field House (225 S Grand Ave, Iowa City)