Well, we know everyone was expecting a different type of bracket to be released this evening, but we’ve come up with the next best thing!
Presenting… The OFFICIAL Special Olympics Pennsylvania March Madness Bracket! 🙌
Which event will reign supreme?! That will be completely up to YOU!! We’ll be posting polls on our Facebook and Twitter pages where you’ll be able choose your favorite event in each matchup to help us determine the champion!
Voting starts March 16, so get those fingers ready!!
Below, please find a running log of every day of voting, which we’ll update accordingly!
We’ve got EIGHT exciting first-round matchups coming your way. Every day, voting will open at 12:30 p.m. and close 24 hours later, so be sure to check back frequently to make your picks and share with friends! Here… we… go…
Matchup 1: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟏 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟖 𝐔𝐍𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐨𝐧
𝐍𝐨. 𝟏 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬: The top seed in its region, Summer Games is our organization’s oldest event. Beginning at West Chester University of PA in 1970, Summer Games now takes place annually at Penn State and celebrated its 50th Anniversary last summer. Our largest event of the year, Summer Games brings together more than 2,000 athletes and 750 coaches from throughout the state. Athletes compete across three days in eight sports: aquatics, athletics, basketball, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, softball and tennis.
𝐍𝐨. 𝟖 𝐔𝐍𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐨𝐧: Now in its fourth year, UNcathlon is a one-of-a-kind Unified team challenge event that unleashes the transformative power of teamwork. UNcathlon is much like a decathlon, but with 11 events as opposed to 10. Participants are challenged both physically and mentally as they complete in various events and they’re also tasked with the additional challenge of fundraising for SOPA. The event began in Pittsburgh, but recently added a new location in Philadelphia.
RESULTS: No. 1 Summer Games defeats No. 8 UNcathlon, 184-26
Matchup 2: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟑 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟔 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐮𝐦 𝐑𝐮𝐧
𝐍𝐨. 𝟑 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲: 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. Training to Athlete Leaders is offered three times a year to further their knowledge base and provide certification in the following: Communications (public speaking), Governance (Special Olympics spokespersons), Health (Health & Fitness Coordinators) and Sports (coaches).
𝐍𝐨. 𝟔 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐮𝐦 𝐑𝐮𝐧: Last year marked the 10th Anniversary of the BSR and it’s only becoming more and more popular. More than 3,500 runners and walkers of all ages and abilities participate in a 5K run or 2-mile family fun walk at Penn State. The Run begins in the vicinity of the Bryce Jordan Center on Curtin Road, moves through Penn State’s scenic campus and concludes with runners racing through the Beaver Stadium Tunnel and onto the Nittany Lions’ home turf to “finish at the fifty.”
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟑 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 defeats 𝐍𝐨. 𝟔 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐮𝐦 𝐑𝐮𝐧, 121-64
Matchup 3: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟒 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟓 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬
𝐍𝐨. 𝟒 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐬: Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities ages 2 to 7. The program includes active games, songs, and other play activities that help children develop motor, social and cognitive skills. Young Athletes serves as an entry point into our sports programs, acting as a key means of recruiting the “next generation” of SOPA athletes.
𝐍𝐨. 𝟓 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬: Three sectionals occur in the eastern section of the state: Eastern Fall Sectional (DeSales Special Olympics), Eastern Bowling Sectionals (Allentown) and Eastern Spring Sectional (Special Olympics Eastern Spring Sectional at Kutztown University). In the fall, athletes compete in five sports (bocce, long distance walking/running, powerlifting, soccer and volleyball) and in the spring, sports include athletics, basketball, golf, softball, swimming and tennis.
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟒 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐬 defeats 𝐍𝐨. 𝟓 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬, 133-123
Matchup 4: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟐 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟕 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐂𝐚𝐦𝐩
𝐍𝐨. 𝟐 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬: For 43 years, Special Olympics Pennsylvania has hosted Winter Games, which is now housed at the amazing facilities at Seven Springs. Athletes from Pennsylvania and surrounding states compete across three days in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. Traditionally, Winter Games has always featured one of the more exciting Opening Ceremonies of any event as the Flame of Hope is carried down the mountain by a team of volunteers and athletes.
𝐍𝐨. 𝟕 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐂𝐚𝐦𝐩: In 1978, Ken and Anthony Yazge met with former SOPA President Frank Dean to see how their church could benefit the athletes of Special Olympics. The creation of a week-long sports training camp stemmed from that meeting and Sports Camp at Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA has taken place every August since. The camp offers cross-training opportunities in the following sports: Aquatics, Athletics, Basketball, Bocce, Golf, Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball as well as bonding opportunities that last a lifetime.
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟕 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐂𝐚𝐦𝐩 defeats 𝐍𝐨. 𝟐 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬, 230-148
Matchup 5: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟏 𝐅𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐅𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟖 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬
𝐍𝐨. 𝟏 𝐅𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐅𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥: Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Fall Festival is hosted and organized by Villanova University students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world. For one weekend each year for the last 31 years, Villanova Special Olympics Fall Festival opens its campus to more than 1,000 athletes and coaches and 6,000 volunteers from the Villanova Student Body, surrounding community, and corporations. Athletes compete in a total of six Olympic-type sports including bocce, long distance running, powerlifting, roller skating, soccer and volleyball.
𝐍𝐨. 𝟖 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬: Three sectionals occur in the central section of the state: Central Fall Sectional (Juniata College), Eastern Bowling Sectionals (Harrisburg) and Eastern Spring Sectional (Saint Francis University). In the fall, athletes compete in four sports (bocce, long distance walking/running, powerlifting and volleyball) and in the spring, sports include athletics, basketball, swimming and tennis.
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟏 𝐅𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐅𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 defeats 𝐍𝐨. 𝟖 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬, 255-44
Matchup 6: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟑 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟔 𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐑
𝐍𝐨. 𝟑 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬: Introduced in the mid-1980s, 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. Not only do the players compete hard, but attitude change and transformation happens on the playing field and the experiences create lifelong friendships. Unified Sports combines approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics Athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (Partners) on sports teams for training and competition, which in turn promotes equality and inclusion.
𝐍𝐨. 𝟔 𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐑: The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) unites officers from law enforcement agencies and corrections departments across the state in a year-round effort to raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics movement. The Torch Run efforts to raise funds include: collecting corporate sponsorships and hosting unique fundraising events such the Polar Plunge, Beaver Stadium Run and Torch Runs. What began in 1981 as a way to provide local law enforcement officers with an opportunity to volunteer in the communities where they lived and worked is now thriving in all 50 states and 40 countries worldwide.
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟑 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 defeats 𝐍𝐨. 𝟔 𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐑, 199-58
Matchup 7: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟒 𝐏𝐨𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐏𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟓 𝐇𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐞
𝐍𝐨. 𝟒 𝐏𝐨𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐏𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬: The Polar Plunge is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations, and businesses to support local Special Olympics athletes by jumping or running into icy cold waters. Plunge participants take a quick dip in a river or pool to raise funds. There are nine Plunge locations across the state as individuals from all walks of life come together to be “Freezin’ for a Reason.” This February, SOPA broke the state fundraising record at the Pittsburgh Plunge, which raised more than $500k for athletes in Pennsylvania!
𝐍𝐨. 𝟓 𝐇𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐞: Hall of Fame honors athletes and volunteers who have made outstanding contributions both on and off the field of competition. There is no typical Special Olympics athlete or volunteer. They are young and old, from across town and across the world. They do, however, share one important character trait: a competitive fire to do their personal best. That’s why SOPA established the Hall of Fame in 1996: to share with a larger audience the inspiring stories of individuals who had heard “you can’t do it,” all through their lives – but time and again proved that they could.
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟒 𝐏𝐨𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐏𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟓 𝐇𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐞, 225-64
Matchup 8: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟐 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐨𝐫 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 v. 𝐍𝐨. 𝟕 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬
𝐍𝐨. 𝟐 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐨𝐫 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬: Our newest statewide event, the Indoor Winter Games held their inaugural event in 2019 in York, Pennsylvania. With a hub at the York Expo Center, Indoor Winter Games welcomes more than 950 athletes and coaches who compete in bowling, figure skating, floor hockey and speed skating. While this year’s Indoor Winter Games were cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, our time in York remains incredible and we’re very much looking forward to next year’s event!
𝐍𝐨. 𝟕 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬: Three sectionals occur in the western section of the state: Western Fall Sectional (Slippery Rock University), Western Bowling Sectionals (Erie) and Western Spring Sectional (Carnegie Mellon University). In the fall, athletes compete in five sports (bocce, long distance walking/running, powerlifting, soccer and volleyball) and in the spring, sports include athletics, basketball, golf, softball, swimming and tennis.
RESULTS: 𝐍𝐨. 𝟐 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐨𝐫 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 defeats 𝐍𝐨. 𝟕 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬, 202-80
Click here to check out all the updates from the next round!