[SPECIAL OLYMPICS MISSOURI] After weeks of discussion, we are officially altering this year’s State Summer Games originally scheduled for June 5-7 in Columbia.
Since we already announced the cancellation of all SOMO events through May 31 due to COVID-19, we knew it would be difficult to still hold Summer Games less than a week later (our athletes need at least eight weeks to train in their respective sports). Ideally, we would be able to push back State Summer Games until the late summer or even early fall, but SOMO is a year-round sports organization.
If we made the decision to push back Summer Games, that would force us to change our fall sports schedule. Most of our area competitions for fall sports already have dates and venues scheduled. What may seem like a simple change in moving back Summer Games a month or two, would create giant waves, affecting all fall competitions.
With the uncertainty of how long this virus will continue to impact our operations, communities, constituents, and partners, we’ve decided to move forward with a series of alternate program opportunities instead.
We believe that we’ve come up with good ways to make sure some of the State Summer Games sports can still be played in 2020:
- Virtual State Summer Games
- We are in the very early stages of trying to take our State Summer Games online! It obviously won’t be the same as competing together in-person, but we are committed to find ways for everyone to compete safely with any equipment they already have at home.
- We will make an announcement about the events athletes can compete in, how to register, and much more, in a Facebook Live announcement at 6 p.m. on May 1. Be sure to tune in then!
- Volleyball and powerlifting will be offered at State Outdoor Games (Sept. 24-27 in Jefferson City)
- Due to the growth in bocce, we were already planning to offer some bocce competition on Thursday night at Blair Oaks H.S. Since we we already scheduled some competition on Thursday, this allows us to move volleyball and powerlifting state competition to the same day (Sept. 24) at the Training for Life Campus. All other sports competition scheduled for State Outdoor Games will stay the same.
- We will offer these sports late enough in the day on Thursday that no one will need to stay the night on Wednesday.
- For teams that now need to stay on Thursday night (when they wouldn’t have in a previous year), State Games Assessments will NOT increase.
- Local track & field and swimming competitions could be offered later this summer or fall
- As of right now, it’s too early to tell if any of the areas will be able to reschedule track & field and swimming competitions, but staff is trying to find a way.
- A lot depends on the availability of schools and venues during the summer and fall months. Please be patient as we work through everything. We will communicate details when we are able.
- Stand-alone soccer invitational this fall at the Training for Life Campus
- We haven’t held a state soccer competition for more than 5 years due to lack of teams statewide.
- As a way to jumpstart the soccer program, we will offer a soccer training/invitational this fall at the Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City.
- We are exploring potential dates and will communicate those as soon as we have them, so existing teams can start practicing and so new teams can have plenty of time to form and practice.
- If you are an athlete from an area that doesn’t have a coach nor enough people to form a team, part of this soccer invitational will include training on the sport. So whether you come with a whole team or by yourself, there will be plenty of opportunities to play soccer and make new friends!
While we’re not holding State Summer Games in its usual form, we’re excited that we’re offering all of the sports in some fashion. We thank you for your patience in these unprecedented times. We know it’s not easy for anyone right now, but we’re filled with joy knowing that when this passes, practices and scheduling will resume and we’ll finally be together again.
In the meantime, we’re offering a series of programming that all of our constituents can take advantage of called #SOMOatHome. For a full list of upcoming sessions, to watch all past sessions, and to read a blog post on how the program started, visit www.SOMO.org/atHome.
To supplement our health & wellness and leadership & life skills classes through #SOMOatHome, we’ve created an account on an app and website called Flipgrid (www.Flipgrid.com). It’s a great way for all of our constituents to stay connected with one another and take part in various health challenges from home. For more information on how to use the app or the website, please watch the tutorial video either on our YouTube or at www.SOMO.org/atHome. Please join us on Flipgrid; let’s have some fun!
SOI has prepared a list of frequently asked questions on the topic of virus prevention and control that you can reference. The CDC also has a lot of great information that is updated regularly (including how to avoid contraction of the virus if you are in the group of higher-risk individuals).
SOI has developed a 30-minute eLearning course for the Special Olympics community about COVID-19. This course is designed to cover the basic information about the coronavirus. To take the course, visit www.learn.specialolympics.org.
If you become aware of anyone in the Special Olympics Missouri family who becomes infected with coronavirus, immediately alert Susan Stegeman (Stegeman@somo.org).
Here are some tips to help make sure we all stay healthy:
- If you’re feeling even slightly under the weather or you’re running a fever, please stay home. Whether you’re an athlete, coach, family member or volunteer, please don’t put everyone else at risk because you don’t want to miss something. We know missing out isn’t any fun, but taking the chance that someone could get sick because of your actions isn’t fun either.
- Wash your hands after using the restroom and before eating — do so for AT LEAST 20 seconds.
- Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open bathroom doors, not your freshly-washed hands
- Avoid touching your face
- Sneeze or cough into your arm, not your hands
- Avoid shaking hands and high-fives
- Avoid drinking from the same cup or bottle as someone else
- Set up a home training regimen with your local athletes to make sure everyone still stays in shape
- Keep an eye on our social media accounts over the next week as we work with our athlete-leaders to develop a training plan for our athletes to stay fit in this time without practices
- For updates on the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website daily
For all future updates on the virus and how it affects Special Olympics Missouri, please visit www.SOMO.org.