Unified Track & Field FAQs

January 13, 2016 Track and Field Blog Updates

PLAYING UNIFIED

A common question from students “Can I play too?”  YES, you can!

As the KHSAA partnership with Special Olympics of Kentucky continues to expand and with the growth of Unified Sports, please refer to this blog for updates and responses to frequently asked questions to guide you throughout the year. If you have an immediate question, please contact Assistant Commissioner Sarah Bridenbaugh (sbridenbaugh@khsaa.org) at the KHSAA offices.

What is Unified Sport?

  • Unified Sports combines persons with and without intellectual and/or physical disabilities on the same team for sports training and competition.

KHSAA Championship Events

  • For the past several years the KHSAA has offered exhibition events in Track and Field for students in wheelchairs (Adapted events) and expanded to Unified Sports Offerings in 2015.  
  • The KHSAA will include Unified Track and Field during the season and the postseason again this year as well as offer Adapted Athletes opportunities based on the need. 

How will Unified Sports work with a KHSAA sport such as Track and Field?

  • Unified Track and Field are non-scoring events within the sport of Track and Field and shall follow the regulations and general philosophies of the KHSAA as well as adhering to special provisions adopted by Special Olympics, including season start date and competition start date.
  • Unified Sports will adhere to the same Bylaws as KHSAA Sport-Activities with noted exceptions listed under the eligibility section.  
  • Offering Unified Track and Field allows for inclusion on a school’s varsity Track and Field team, but does not replace those teams.
  • It also allows for all to see that all individuals are a contributing member of the team, regardless of ability and disability.
  • An interactive explanatory presentation has been created for Unified/Adapted Track and Field and can be found at: http://khsaa.org/track/presentations/20162017/unified/presentation.html

Eligibility for Unified Athletes

  • All students’ partners who meet all KHSAA requirements will qualify as a Partner Athlete.
  • Special Athlete students must meet specific KHSAA eligibility requirements including being enrolled at the school, physical (from the list of approved providers in Bylaw 12), parental consent and the requirement for insurance, and practice of sportsmanship.
  • The special athlete student must be identified by the school as having an intellectual disability or a closely related developmental disability such as those who have functional limitations, both in general learning and in adaptive skills such as recreation, work, independent living, self-direction or self-care.
  • *Please note, any student-athlete who participates on their high school Varsity, Junior Varsity, or Freshman track team will not be eligible to be a Special athlete in the unified division.
  • All participants shall complete a physical exam, parental consent and insurance forms as required in Bylaw 12 by the KHSAA.
  • Any participation as Partner Athletes by track and field athletes shall not count towards the required four (4) meet minimum. Unified events by these Partner Athletes shall not count against a student-athlete’s four (4) event maximum per meet and participation shall not count against the school’s allowed number of meets.

What events will be offered?

  • For the regional and state competition, the KHSAA will offer exhibition events in Unified Track & Field. 
  • Beginning in 2017, those events will include: 2 x 50m dash, 2 x 200m dash, 4 x 100m relay, shot put, and long jump.
    • 2 x 50m Dash (one partner/one special athlete)
      • Partner athlete must start at the 100m dash start line, special athlete waits at the 50m line. Partner must race 50m to the athlete, exchange the baton (touch hands), and then the special athlete will race the final 50m to the finish.
    • 2 x 200m Dash (one partner/one special athlete)
      • Partner athlete must start at the 400m dash start line, special athlete waits at the 200m start line exchange zones. Partner must race 200m to the special athlete, exchange the baton (touch hands), and then the special athlete will race the final 200m to the finish.
    • 4 x 100m Relay (two partners/two special athletes)
      • This event will include 2 athletes and 2 partners that must compete in this order: partner athlete, special athlete, partner athlete, special athlete.
    • Long Jump(one partner/one athlete)
      • Unified partner athlete jumps first, then the special athlete jumps. Each participant gets 2 jumps and the best jump for each athlete will be added together to determine final distance.
    • Shot Put (one partner/one athlete)
      • Unified partner athlete throws first, then the special athlete throws. Each participant gets 2 throws and the best throw for each athlete will be added together to determine final distance.
  • Adapted events will be available based on need. Please contact Sarah Bridenbaugh at the KHSAA office immediately if you have an athlete in the adapted events.
  • During the regular season, schools are encouraged to incorporate other traditional KHSAA Track and Field events.

Who can be a part of a Unified Team?

  • Unified Teams shall consist of an approximately equal number of athletes with intellectual and/or physical disabilities (Special Athletes) and athletes without intellectual and/or physical disabilities (Partner Athletes).
  • Teams are co-ed and competition will be co-ed (until participation numbers warrant gender-specific teams).
  • Ideally, teams will have between 12 and 20 members with approximately 50% being Special Athletes. However, as few as one Special-Athlete and one Partner Athlete may compete and represent a member school.
  • A partner athlete may participate with more than one Special Athlete. 

Notification that you are entering Unified Teams (regular and postseason)

  • If a school is fortunate enough to be able to form a unified team, the KHSAA shall be notified as well as making the regular season host schools and officials aware so that events can be planned and schedules can be made accordingly.
  • In addition, the school’s athletic director should select Unified Track on the KHSAA school subdomain database which will notify the KHSAA that your school is competing in the Unified division.
  • Athletic Directors are also required to enter the Unified Track roster into the KHSAA school subdomain database and clarify which students are the Special athletes and which students are the Partner athletes for entry purposes. 
  • It is vital that the host school and officials be notified at least one week before a competition if a Unified Team or adapted athlete is competing as time schedules need to be adjusted and other accommodations may need to be made.

Competition

  • For individual event selection, coaches create event pairs that would include one (1) Special Athlete and one (1) Partner Athlete.  
  • In each event, schools must enter as pairs.      
  • Unified running events will be separate heats.
  • No team points will be accumulated during Unified Sports competition.
  • Because these are still exhibition events this season, a system for scoring is being analyzed and a determination will be presented at a later time.
  • The school’s goal should be for unified teams to compete in at least 2 regular season meets before entering the postseason.
  • Heats for regions and state will be used if necessary.
  • Regional results will be used in the seeding for the state events if necessary.
  • The State Meet shall include in each sponsored Unified Event, up to twenty-four (24) competitors and their partners, and any pairs tied for the twenty-fourth qualifying position.
  • Those 24 state competing pairs will be determined after the results of the regionals have been submitted.

School Grant (From Special Olympics Kentucky to be eligible for the grant)

  • Schools competing in Unified Track and Field may apply to receive up to a $500 grant, provided the school completes all minimum requirements listed below.
  • Grant funds must be used for Unified Track & Field associated expenses such as; coach stipends, coaches training, uniforms, equipment, transportation, etc. Coaches must complete the on-line Unified Sports course available through the NFHS website.
  • There will be a required minimum of 4 participants required (two (2) Special Athletes and two (2) Partners) in order to qualify for a grant offered by special Olympics.
  • Schools are to notify the KHSAA so that the tracking of teams and athletes can be done to possibly secure funds for a Unified Programs Grant.
  • If a team consists of more than 4 team members, two coaches are required.  Coaches must complete the NFHS Online Training, “Unified Sports”.
  • It is highly recommended that each team identify one coach with knowledge of and experience in Track and Field and one coach with knowledge and experience working with students with special needs.
  • The Unified Sports team season shall be a minimum of 6 weeks and shall practice according to KHSAA rules.
  • The grant requires at least 2 practices per week during those 6 weeks.
  • Unified Teams shall participate in the school’s assigned Regional Meets.
  • In order to qualify for the KHSAA State Championship, athletes must qualify from their regional meet.
  • Unified events will be exhibition events.

Coaches/Athletic Directors

  • If a school is fortunate enough to be able to form a unified team, the KHSAA shall be notified as well as making the regular season host schools and officials aware so that events can be planned and schedules can be made accordingly.
  • Unified Coaches should be certified in the KHSAA track rules clinic, safety clinic and must complete the NFHS Online Training, “Unified Sports”.
  • In addition, the school’s athletic director should select Unified Track on the KHSAA school subdomain database.
  • It is vital that the host school and officials be notified at least one week before a competition if a Unified Team or wheelchair athlete is competing as time schedules need to be adjusted and other accommodations may need to be made.
  • Athletic Directors should also enter the roster for Unified Track & Field just as he/she does for all other sports in the KHSAA school subdomain database.

Meet Management –  Hytek Instructions

  • If a team has communicated to a meet manager that it has Unified and/or Adapted athletes, the meet manager must create a heat for that athlete.
  • Adapted athletes have two (2) events they are eligible for: 100m dash and shot put.
  • Unified athletes/teams have five (5) events to compete in: 100m dash (2x50m), 4 x 100m relay, 400m dash (2x200m), shot put and long jump.
  • Meet managers: If you add the event into Hytek, you can put “Unified” or “Adapted” into the notes section.
  • Then, undo the check mark in the “Score Event” column as these events are not to be scored with the team overall total score. 

This document is intended to be a general overview of Unified track and field. Additional information and updates will be sent to schools throughout the school year. Please contact Sarah Bridenbaugh at sbridenbaugh@khsaa.org for more information.