Athlete Leadership


Goal of Special Olympics

The ultimate goal of Special Olympics is to help persons with intellectual disabilities participate as productive and respected members of society by offering them a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents through sports training and competition, and by increasing the public's awareness of their needs and capabilities.

Athlete Leadership Value Statement

Special Olympics empowers athletes to become contributing and respected members of society. We support athlete leaders both on and off the playing field.

Purpose of Athlete Leadership  

The goal of Athlete Leadership is to empower athletes to develop leadership skills and utilize their voices and abilities to assume meaningful leadership roles, influence change within the Special Olympics movement, and create inclusive communities around the world.  Check out our Athlete Leadership One Page Snapshot.

    Athlete Leadership on YouTube!

Check out our Newsletter Issues of Special Olympics Athlete Review (SOAR):

2018 End of Year Review   2017 Year End Review
Summer 2018 Issue Fall 2017 Issue
Winter 2018 Issue                Winter 2017 Issue

If you are interested in submitting a story for SOAR, here are the deadlines for each edition: March 31st (Winter), August 31st (Summer) and December 31st (End of Year).

Definition of Athlete Leadership 

Through organized training and practical experiences, Athlete Leadership prepare athletes for meaningful positions of influence and leadership throughout the Special Olympics organization, both on and off the playing field.

Special Olympics PA VisionSOPA Vision Image

  • To strive to be an athlete-led and athlete-centric organization
  • To enable athletes, families, volunteers and the community at large to see athletes in leadership roles EVERYWHERE throughout Special Olympics programs
  • To change the perception of our athlete leaders
  • To equip athletes with the skills and abilities to lead our organization and others

Athlete Leadership One Pager For Volunteers: Overview of Athlete Leadership courses based on the University model which are taken around a major in communications, governance, sports and/or health. In addition, reviews roles athletes can purse following completion of Athlete Leadership University.

Handbook For Athlete Leaders: Outlines purpose of Athlete Leadership and includes detailed overview of Athlete Leadership University.

Athletes with the proper training and coaching can lead us into the future.   Athlete Leaders within all levels of our program have strong voices, a desire to get involved, and a better understanding of what their needs are and where we should be heading as an organization.

Athlete Leadership Opportunities Include: 

ATHLETE LEADERSHIP UNIVERSITY- Training offered to Athlete Leaders three times a year to further their knowledge base and provide certification in the below.  Click here for report forms and practicum resources for the below-mentioned categories.

1.  Communications - Global Messengers (trained as public speakers for Special Olympics)

2.  Governance - Athlete Representatives (trained as spokespersons for Special Olympics) 

3.  Health – Health and Fitness Coordinators (trained to incorporate better health and fitness habits into their local program). 

4.  Sports – Coaches (trained to help athletes that currently are, or want to become certified coaches, make the transition from a competitor to a coach).

**If interested in being trained in any of these subjects, please fill out the Athlete Leadership University Interest Form so you can receive all Athlete Leadership updates.**

ATHLETE INPUT COUNCILS - An open forum for Athletes to share their input on key topics, games and events.

ATHLETE CONGRESS - Hosted every 2 years, is a forum for Athlete Representatives to present recommendations to the SOPA Board of Directors for organizational change. Athlete Congress attendees must be trained Athlete Representatives -- one participant per county. The 2020 Athlete Congress Chair is Kristine Progin from Lebanon County.

ATHLETE LEADERSHIP TEAMS - Teams of athletes serving as part of a local program management team, providing direct athlete input.

ATHLETES ON SOPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS - Positions are currently held by Ernie Roundtree from Monroe County and Johanna Schoeneck from Lycoming County.


Coaches - View Our FAQ

Athlete Leadership University Instructors
Athlete Leadership University Mentors
Special Olympics Employees
Survey Conductors
On Games Organizing Committees - View Our FAQ           
On Local Program Management Teams
On Regional Input Council
Attend Athlete Congress
Attend Leadership Conference
Attend Athlete Input Councils
Health and Fitness Coordinators - View Our FAQ
Healthy Athlete Initiative Assistants

2018 Athlete Congress

For more information and details on upcoming programs, please contact: Jordan Schubert, Athlete Leadership Coordinator

Athlete Feedback is very important to us.  If you have any suggestions on how to make Special Olympics better for all athletes, please click the below button and submit your ideas.

Submit Your Ideas