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02/24/15 – FAQs Unified Track and Field

February 24, 2015 Athletic Department Blog Updates



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



For the past several years the KHSAA has offered exhibition events in Track and Field for students in wheelchairs.  Those events included the 100m dash and the shot put.

This season the KHSAA and Special Olympics have partnered to include Unified Track and Field into the season and the postseason.


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.


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

Unified Track and Field is a sport within the KHSAA and shall follow the regulations and general philosophies of the KHSAA, including season start date and competition start date. Unified Sports will adhere to the same Bylaws as KHSAA Sports 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 teams, 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.


What events will be offered?

For the regional and state competition, the KHSAA will sponsor exhibition events in the 100m dash, 4 x 100m relay, 400m dash, shot put and long jump. During the regular season schools are encouraged to incorporate other traditional KHSAA Track and Field events.


Who does a Unified Team consist of?

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. 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.

For event selection, coaches create event pairs that would include one (1) Special Athlete and one (1) Partner Athlete.  In each individual event, a school may enter one (1) or two (2) pairs.  While entered as pairs, the Special Athlete and the Partner Athlete compete as individuals during meets.  In relay events, a school may enter one (1) relay team, selecting two (2) Special Athletes and two (2) Partner Athletes to compete.  In meets, each team member is limited to two (2) events, including relays.

Unified running events will be separate heats similar to what we have done with the wheelchair events.


ELIGIBILITY for Unified Athletes

All students’ partners who meet all KHSAA requirements will qualify as a Partner Athlete.

Special Athlete students must meet KHSAA eligibility requirements including enrollment, physical examination, parental consent and insurance, and practice of sportsmanship. The student must be identified by the school student 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.

All participants shall complete forms required in Bylaw 12 by the KHSAA. Special Olympics has two forms that are requirements for participation and they would like a copy of the student’s physical examination.

Athletes who compete on a school’s varsity Track and Field team would not be eligible to compete in Unified Track and Field also.  Athletes in other spring sports may participate, if allowed by the school and coaches.



If a school is fortunate enough to be able to form a unified team the KHSAA would need to 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. Also, please notify the KHSAA so that the tracking of teams and athletes can be done to possibly secure funds for a Unified Programs Grant.






It is vital that the host school and officials be notified several weeks 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.


SCHOOL GRANT (From Special Olympics Kentucky)

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.



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 8 weeks and shall practice according to KHSAA rules. The grant requires at least 2 practices per week during those 8 weeks. Unified Teams shall participate in the school’s assigned Regional Meets and are invited to the 2015 State Championship in Lexington. These events will be exhibition events.



In each individual event, a school may enter up to two pairs.  While entered as pairs, the Special Athlete and Partner Athlete will compete as individuals during meets.  In relay events, a school may enter one (1) relay team, selecting two Special Athletes and two Partner Athletes to compete. No individual, Special Athlete or Partner, shall be entered in more than two (2) events. 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 competition if necessary.

Because these are exhibition events this season, a system for scoring is being analyzed and a determination will be presented at a later time.



Practices shall begin no later than the week of March 22, so that all 8 week sessions culminate at the state meet.  



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