SIG: Special Olympics Texas Information Guide

The Special Olympics Texas Information Guide (SIG) contains important information about the policies, sports rules, fundraising guidelines, financial requirements and communications strategies governing Special Olympics Texas. The SIG is updated each year, and all coaches and heads of delegations are required to review and understand the rules. Changes are discussed each year during the “Annual Conference” held online or in person in January and February.

Summary of Changes and Updates

New or updated information will be shown in blue italic within each section of the SIG.

Below is a summary of all changes/updates since 2016:

Section C - Volunteer  

  • Volunteer Opportunities
    • Project UNIFY is now known as Unified Champion Schools.
  • Volunteer Eligibility
    • Class B Volunteers 7 years old and younger – are not given volunteer assignments, but are welcomed and encouraged to be cheerleaders or spectators at competitions, accompanied by a parent/guardian. They must remain outside the immediate competition area.
  • 2016 award winners:
    • Volunteer of the Year – Renae Carswell, Lewisville
    • Male Athlete of the Year: 15-21 – Brendan West, Pasadena
    • Male Athlete of the Year: 22+ - Kyle Eddlemon, Missouri City
    • Female Athlete of the Year: 15-21 – Kylie Tyson, Canyon
    • Female Athlete of the Year: 22+ - Julia Kilgore, Wichita Falls
    • Coach of the Year – Clara Edwards, Monahans
    • Trainer of the Year – Laurie Martin, St. Jo
    • Outstanding Service from a Business/Corporation – FC Dallas, Frisco
    • Family of the Year – Mehnert Family, Carrollton
    • Outstanding Volunteer for Fund Raising – Jason James, Bryan
    • Outstanding Service for Outreach – Gwenda Taggart, San Antonio
    • Outstanding Service from a Community Leader – Greg Simmons, San Antonio
    • Outstanding Service from a Civic or Service Organization – Houston Bar Association, Special Olympics Committee, Houston
    • Unified Sports Partner of the Year – Jim Domer, Lewisville

Section D – Establishing a Local Program

    • Form W-9 is required by the Internal Revenue Service for each new vendor. SOTX must have the vendor’s current W-9 on file before payment is processed. All W-9s must be updated annually. Please attach a W-9 to each check request from a vendor not in SOTX system.

Section E – Coaches Training and Certification

  • Head of Delegation Requirements:
    • Must attend the Area Conference annually
    • Must be responsible for informing all Coaches and Athletes of Area conference material.
  • Coach Certification Maintenance
    • Receive Area Conference changes from HOD
    • Coaches are no longer mandated to attend the Area Conference, only encouraged to overview and stay updated on changes.
    • The Area Conference will remain online throughout the year for Coaches to stay updated on rule changes, policies and procedures, calendar of events, etc.,
    • The coach must remain active in the Special Olympics program in the specific sport(s). An absence of more than 12 months will result in a lapse of certification and require the coach to attend another training school.
    • The coach must attend all required coaches meetings for the sport(s) in which they are active.
    • Every three years the coach must complete the Protective Behaviors, Concussion in Sports Training and submit a new Class A Volunteer Application.
    • Every four years the coach must complete Criminal Background Check.

Section F – Training

  • Coach Education System:
    • Contact the Director of Program Training to assess personal sport experience and knowledge and option to receive Level 1 Coach certification through the completion of the online Coaching Special Olympics Athletes course. The Director of Program training can be contacted by email, dir_progtrg.chp@sotx.org or phone 512/491/2940.
    • Coaching Special Olympics Athletes online training course -http://www.asep.com/asep_content/org/SONA.cfm 
  • Online Concussion in Sports Training required for all new and returning Coaches.
  • Forward completion certificate to Area office.
  • All Coaches must take Concussion in Sports Training once every 3 years in congruence with Class A Volunteer application.

Section G - General Policies

  • People ages 2 through 7 are considered Athletes in training and can participate in Young Athletes.
  • Special Olympics must offer full participation at the area level for every athlete regardless of his/her economic circumstances.

Section H – Risk Management

  • To the fullest extent permitted by law, SOTX prohibits concealed handguns and open carry of handguns, and all weapons (other types of guns, knives, etc.) at all SOTX practices, competitions offices, events, and functions.

Section I – Health & Safety

  • Winter Weather Policy
    • Athletes are more susceptible to injuries during cold weather, particularly from pulled or torn muscles. Players should be encouraged to wear appropriate clothing to aid body heat retention yet afford adequate movement without creating a safety hazard. As a general rule, training programs will be cancelled if the projected temperate (including wind chill) at the start of training is projected to be below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hot Weather Policy
    • The risk of heat related illness from vigorous sports increases with the temperature. The body generates heat which cannot be dissipated readily when the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees F, depending upon the humidity. Hot weather is considered at any point where the Heat Index reaches or exceeds 90. As a general rule, training programs should be reviewed if the heat index at the start of training is projected to be above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Coaches should exercise caution and provide additional water breaks.
  • Lightning and Thunder Policy
    • If inclement weather is forecast, an individual should be designated to monitor the weather forecasted developments during competition. If the facility being used for competition has a lightning detection system and a facilities policy in place that is more stringent than listed below, the facilities policy will supersede the Special Olympics Texas policy. 
    • If lightning is detected within 8 miles of the practice or competition facility, all coaches, players, referees and spectators are to withdraw from the field and seek proper shelter. No place outside is safe near thunderstorms. The best shelter is a large, fully enclosed, substantially constructed building. A vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides is a reasonable second choice.
    • 30 Minutes Rule – Wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder or the last lightning flash before giving the “all clear” signal and resuming normal activity. If thunder is heard or lightning is seen again within that 30-minute time frame, the event will continue to be postponed or officials may deem to cancel the event.
    • Lightning research has confirmed that consecutive lighting strikes can occur as much as six miles apart. People often do not perceive lightning to be close if it is two miles or more away, but the risk of the next strike being at your location may actually be very high. Many lightening casualties occur in the beginning as a thunderstorm approaches because people ignore these precursors. When thunderstorms are in the area but not overhead, the lightning threat can exist even if it is sunny at your location. 

Section J – Outreach Program

  • Project UNIFY – Meet in the Middle is now known as Unified Champion Schools.
  • Young Athletes Program is now known as, Young Athletes.
  • Partner Clubs is now known as Unified Clubs.

Section L - Chapter SMT

2017 Meeting Schedule

  • Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 5:30pm (call)
  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 5:30pm (call)
  • Friday, September 8, 2017 at 2:00pm (call/in-person)
  • Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 5:30pm (call)

New forms available for sport rules change requests. 

  • Sports Rules Change Request Form
  • Evaluation of Sports Rules Change Request Form

Section M - Rules and Competition

  • Awards Presentation / Venue Guidelines  
    • SOTX awarding will skip places on ties at every level of competition.
  • Awarding Rabbits
    • If an athlete outperforms everyone else in their age group and gender within a single event, they will automatically be awarded a 1st place, regardless if they rabbited or not.
    • If an athlete rabbits, they will be awarded using their final score and placed within the closest heat based on that final score.
    • If an entire heat rabbits, all athletes will stay in that original heat and be awarded based on their final scores within that heat.

Section N - Registration

  • Registration – Registration and Entry Fee Policy
    • A Scratches Deadline has been established for each Chapter Games. Scratches of Athletes and/or Unified Partners will incur a $15.00 administration fee per participant that scratches if submitted after the Scratches Deadline. Scratches Deadlines can be found on each Chapter Games Entries Processing Schedule. The Entries Processing Schedule is listed at www.sotx.org/competitions on each Chapter Games competition page. Scratches must be submitted by the scratch deadline to the Director of Games Management in order to avoid the administration fee.
  • Delegation Entry Form Instructions
    • For entry at all levels, Unified Partners (regardless of age) must be included on the Delegation Personnel Form and the Athlete Entry Form.
  • Added to Event Codes: 
    • BB Speed Dribble Dribble…. BBSPDR
  • Consult your Area Office for your area chapter deadline
    • Chapter Games Schedule
      • February 2-5, 2017: Winter Games (Austin)
      • May 19-21 2017: Equestrian Summer Games (Bryan)
      • May 25-28, 2017: Summer Games (Arlington)
      • Sailing and Kayaking: October 2017 (Dallas)
      • October 12-14, 2017: Fall Classic AQ, SB, BC (Bryan-College Station)
      • October 19-21, 2017: Fall Classic GF (Bryan-College Station)
      • December 1-2, 2017: Flag Football (San Antonio)

Section P - Summer Games

  • Athletics – Track Events Information
    • In Wheelchair Races, competition management has the option to space athletes out, using more than one lane.
  • Basketball – Team Competition
    • SOTX recommends, for lower level basketball teams, a minimum number of 7 participants on a roster.
  • Basketball – Individual Skills Contest
    • Basketball Skills will consist of three events: Target Pass, 10M Dribble and Spot Shot.  Speed Dribble may be substituted for 10M Dribble.  Entrants who want to substitute Speed Dribble for the 10M Dribble must register to participate in Basketball Skills and the Speed Dribble (event code: BBSPDR).
    • The diagram for the Speed Dribble widened from 1.5m to 2m.
  • Gymnastics – Rhythmic
    • Rules and routines used at all levels of SOTX Rhythmic Gymnastics events will be the SOI Rules dated 2016-2023.
    • Rule Change – Male Gymnasts are no longer able to compete in white socks.
      • Male gymnasts shall wear tank tops (leotards) and long white gymnastic pants, or T-shirts that are tucked in and gymnastics shorts. For either set of attire, the gymnast may compete in gymnastic slippers or bare feet.
  • Chapter Summer Games – Soccer (new section)
    • In 2017, team soccer events (Traditional & Unified) at the Chapter Games level will be offered as an indoor soccer event only.  This will be the second year that SOTX will be offering indoor soccer at Summer Games, and this is a trial to see if indoor soccer should become the permanent and only soccer option offered at the Chapter level.  The Chapter SMT will reevaluate for the 2018 season after collecting survey results and feedback following the 2017 event.
  • Soccer – New Rule
    • Athletes and Unified Partners younger than 11 years old shall not engage in heading, either in practices or in games.

Section Q - Fall Classic

  • 2017 Chapter Games Sport Maximums
    • Aquatics – 500 participants
      • The aquatics competition at Chapter Games will have a maximum quota of 500 entrants. Quota will be distributed to each area for dispersal before entry deadlines.  Quota will be based on an area’s net participation in aquatics against the statewide total of area level net participants in aquatics.
  • Golf – Reminders
    • Golf maximum averages for Chapter Games will be enforced. Competition management can use area results to determine placement in golf levels at Chapter. 
    • If a substitution is required in Level 2 and Level 3, the alternate participant must have been listed on the original entries for that competition as an alternate.
  • Flag Football – Unified Sports Flag Football
    • The National Football League has partnered with SOTX to support the growth of Unified Flag Football Teams.  Teams can apply for grants through the NFL to help with uniform and equipment cost.  
  • Kayaking – Rule Changes
  • Softball – Unified Sports Softball Rule Clarification
    • Teams should have five Special Olympics athletes and five partners on the field at all times. The SOI rules state that if a team plays shorthanded with either three in the infield or outfield, at least two of the three must be athletes and at least one of the three must be a partner. A team may play with an uneven number of athletes and partners as long as there are more athletes.
    • Teams must play shorthanded if they cannot field 5 unified partners and must always field 5 athletes.  An inability to follow these rules, due to injury or removal of a player including ejection by the umpire, will result in forfeiture.

Section T – Families 

  • Department of Aging and Disability Services will now be known as Health and Human Services. 
  • Coalition of Health Services has been added to the list of supportive organizations for family members.
  • Want to receive important SOTX information that affects your athlete and family? Sign up to receive texts (no more than 2-3 a month) from SOTX. Standard text & data rates may apply. Text FAMILY to 888777.

Section U – Public Relations/Communications

  • Social Media Guidelines
    • Follow us on Snapchat at SO.texas
    • Follow us on Facebook Live
  • Visual Identity
    • All previous versions of the logos including those with the teal color were to be completely phased out by the end of 2015.

Section V - Names and Addresses

  • New Area 12 Training Director: Rena Gibson

List of Forms

Note: All forms created in Microsoft Word use the official Special Olympics Inc. font Ubuntu. If you do not have Ubuntu loaded on your computer, forms may be distorted. You may download Ubuntu for free at this website: http://font.ubuntu.com/.

Section B - Athlete Eligibility

Section C - Volunteer Eligibility

Section D - Establishing a Local Program

Section E - Coaching

Section F - Training

Section G - Policies

Section H - Risk Management

Section I - Health & Safety

Section J - Outreach

Section K - Unified Sports

Section L - Chapter SMT

Section M - Rules & Competition

Section N - Registration

Section P - Summer Games

Section Q - Fall Classic

Section R - Winter Games

Section S - Development

Section T - Families

Section U - PR/Communications