Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SONA 2016 Coach of the Year Finalist, Tammy Powell

Congratulations are extended to Coach Tammy Powell from Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Lycoming County who is among thirteen individuals representing the United States, Canada and the Caribbean that were named 2016 Coach of the Year finalists.  The finalists represent Special Olympics North America’s (SONA) most exemplary coaches - true leaders and dedicated volunteers who serve as role models to other coaches, inside and outside of Special Olympics. SONA recently announced that Penny McDowall from Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, has been named the 2016 Coach of the Year.

The Coach of the Year Award was established in the late 1980’s and is given annually to an active, certified Special Olympics coach who has met several criteria, particularly their having made a significant and demonstrable impact on local Special Olympics Programs and their communities. There are more than 130,000 coaches within SONA, providing instruction and competition in more than 32 sports. The impressive scope and contributions of all those coaches, puts this momentousness of this award into perspective.

About Tammy Powell
Tammy Powell is highly regarded as an ideal Special Olympics coach and is well respected by everyone around her.

In her five years with Special Olympics, Tammy has become one of our program’s most involved coaches and currently holds certifications in aquatics, basketball and bowling.

Not only does Tammy give so generously of her time to Special Olympics as a coach, but she finds time to volunteer with a number of other groups.  In addition to being named Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Coach of the Year for 2016, she was named Challenger Baseball League Volunteer of the Year in 2014 and was again nominated for the award in 2016.

As a Special Olympics coach, Tammy has displayed extraordinary respect and care for others which truly supports the mission of Special Olympics. Her ability to communicate effectively and her positive attitude have helped quadruple the number of participants in her aquatics program over four years.

Tammy is a natural leader who can motivate those around her to believe in their abilities and to do their very best. 

Pictured Above: Coach Tammy Powell from Lycoming County pictured at center with former Special Olympics PA (SOPA) Board Chairman Greg Stewart and President & CEO Matt Aaron after receiving the SOPA 2016 Coach of the Year Award.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Slippery Rock Named Unified Sports Center of Excellence

Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) held its first annual Western Pennsylvania Unified Youth Summit on November 15th, during which it recognized Slippery Rock University as a “Unified Sports Center of Excellence.”

SlipperyRock University graduate students from the Adapted Physical Activity program manage Unified Champion School strategies in eight high schools in Mercer, Butler and Lawrence Counties.  They serve as coaches for the winter Unified Indoor Bocce and spring Unified Track and Field programs, and work with youth leaders on whole school engagement.  Additionally, Slippery Rock is piloting a Unified Fitness initiative on campus which pairs college students with adult Special Olympics athletes for twice-a-week structured trainings.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is a comprehensive program of the Unified Schools strategy that combines Unified Sports, Youth Leadership and Advocacy, and Whole School Engagement within the school environment to generate awareness and education activities that promote inclusion and reach the majority of the school population.  Click here to learn more.

Pictured (from left to right):  Slippery Rock University representatives Dr. James A. Preston -- Assistant to the Dean, College of Education; Wendy Fagan – Instructor, Adapted Physical Activity Program and VIP Sports Camp and Clinic Director; Dr. Keith Dils, Ed.D -- Dean, College of Education; Dr. Robert Arnhold -- Director of the Center on Disability and Health; and Matt Aaron – Special Olympics PA President and CEO.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Flag Football is THRIVING in Pennsylvania!

The Bucks County Believers hosted their 2nd Annual Flag Football Invitational on Saturday, Oct 29th at Neil Armstrong Middle School in Fairless Hills, PA.  Teams from Bucks, Delaware and Monroe Counties came to compete, make new friends, and earn medals. 

Members from the local Knights of Columbus organization graciously served as officials.  Head Coaches Bob, Mickey and Kathy from Bucks County; Taraz and Denise from Monroe County coaches; and Jeff from Delaware County were very proud of all that these athletes accomplished throughout the season.

Special Olympics PA is building this “emerging sport” and would love to assist in the formation of more flag football teams. We are training new coaches from counties all over the state, so if you would like to join in on the fun next year, please contact Jennifer Tresp at  or Kathy Reilly Adkins at

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Highlanders Host Special Olympics PA – Bucks County Soccer Scrimmages

Kudos to Special Olympics PA - Bucks County and the Cairn Highlanders' Athletic Department for hosting a successful unified soccer exhibition last week! The exhibition was the first of its kind hosted by the Cairn Athletic Department. Over 25 athletes were in attendance to take on the Highlanders. To continue these unified activities, flag football scrimmages are already on the calendar for Oct. 8.  #PlayUnified 

Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lebanon County Athletes are “Teammates for Life”

#‎TriumphTuesday – A story about the thrill of Special Olympics competition and joy of victory that includes the development of lasting friendships between Special Olympics Lebanon County athletes was has been shared in the 2016 Summer issue of USTA’s NetPlay Magazine. Thank you @USTA Middle States! Read the full magazine issue here:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Special Olympics Helps Athletes Lead Rewarding Lives

The Special Olympics experience fills a critical need in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and the demonstration of competence to themselves, their families and the community. The improvements athletes make in social skills and friendships are often dramatic.   Special Olympics athletes learn developmental and life skills as the benefits of participation translate beyond sports, helping them to live more independent and rewarding lives.

Ronald Frank Nagel, a Delaware County athlete and Global Messenger, recently received a generous scholarship to continue his education in the Career Independent Living and Learning Studies (CILLS) Program at East Stroudsburg University from Ruby's Rainbow. The "goal and mission at Ruby’s Rainbow is to grant scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes, and help them achieve their dreams of higher education, while spreading awareness of their capabilities and general awesomeness."

Ronald will be entering his 3rd year in the program, where he is enjoying the life of a college student. He is taking classes and is involved in extra-curricular activities including Best Buddies Rehabilitative Services Student Organization (RSSO) where he is serving in leadership roles and interning at the WESS, the on-campus radio station. He has set many goals for himself, but his passion is to obtain a position at a radio station. He'll continue this year working on the skills needed to reach his dream.

Congratulations to Ronald and the thousands of Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes that achieve more independent and rewarding lives! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

4th Annual Unified Soccer Championship

On Tuesday, June 7th, Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Program (SOPA Philly) continued its strong partnership with the School District of Philadelphia to present the fourth annual Unified Soccer Championship held at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia.  Opening Ceremonies for the Unified Soccer Championship kicked-off at 10:00am with event emcee and 93.3 WMMR DJ Matt Cord, followed by the Championship game at approximately 12:30pm.

The Championship matches featured teams from nine Philadelphia high schools from across the city including: Abraham Lincoln, Universal Audenried Charter, Frankford, Furness, George Washington, High School of the Future, Martin Luther King, Sayre, and Thomas Edison.  Approximately 100 athletes culminated months of preparation for these Unified Games and displayed the “best of the best” during this year’s competition.  An Olympics Town provided fun and entertainment for all guests with activities by Dave and Busters, Philadelphia Union, and Sambulance.  In addition, students from four middle and elementary schools were in attendance to cheer on the inspiring sportsmanship of the athletes in action.  Those schools included: Clara Barton Elementary School, Solis-Cohen Elementary School, Tilden Middle School, and Universal Daroff Elementary School.  

 Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. This Interscholastic Unified Sports Soccer elective course, developed in partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Special Olympics Pennsylvania, includes curriculum with youth leadership components, anti-bullying elements and soccer training and competition.  The course provides greater access to sports for all students, with and without disabilities.  Additionally, a partnership with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) helps to provide officials for Unified events.

Check out news coverage of the Championship by PHL17.

Visit the Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia program website for more information, games results and photos!