Did You Know About Special Olympics Ontario School Championships?

June 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features


What is the Special Olympics Ontario School Championships program?

Special Olympics Ontario’s School Championships & Qualifiers program (previously known as Four Corners) uniquely promotes sport training and competition opportunities to high school student athletes with intellectual disabilities, providing them with opportunities to compete and advance to the Special Olympics Ontario School Championships. 

The School Championships and Qualifiers program provides quality competition experience for students with an intellectual disability aged 13 – 21 in the sports of basketball, soccer, bocce and track & field. 48 regional qualifying competitions will be held throughout the 2015/2016 school year. Teams at each regional qualifier will be vying for the opportunity to advance to the SOO School Championships to be held in June of 2016.  

Schools are able to enter up to three teams for each qualifier and are restricted to entering only one qualifier per sport, therefore allowing teams to compete in up to four qualifiers per season. Teams and athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate, and all sports are co-ed. Teams will be divisioned prior to play so competition is against those of equal ability level. Registration for regional qualifying events is $5 per student.

The program also uniquely offers a virtual track & field competition, where students can submit their race times and jump distances online and ‘virtually compete’ against other students to qualify for Provincials. This allows every secondary school in Ontario the opportunity to compete and advance. 


History of the program

Its inaugural season began as a series of four youth Basketball competitions during the 2011-2012 school year, advancing teams to a Provincial Championship in Waterloo, the first of its kind for school athletes with intellectual disabilities. Its success led to an expanded offering in 2012-2013 providing 16 qualifying competitions in Basketball and Soccer, culminating in a Championship held at York University May 14-15, 2013. A total of 1376 athletes participated in the 2012-2013 season, along with 351 coach-educators and 232 volunteers. 

The success of the project has highlighted the growing opportunity and demand for improvement to the quality and availability of competition for school based athletes with intellectual disabilities. Prior to this project, these opportunities were limited, with the majority of such athletes either not participating in physical activity at school or training in school clubs with little to no possibility of competition. This project illustrates the effectiveness of using regional competition as a way of introducing new athletes and coach educators to sport and physical activity. 


Athlete Eligibility 

Any student with an intellectual disability, who is 13 – 21 years old on the day of the competition and is currently attending Secondary School in Ontario is eligible to participate. Unsure if your student might be eligible? Click here for a full definition of an intellectual disability.—organization/1-8—definition-of-an-intellectual-disability 


How it works 

Throughout the 2015/2016 school year, the Special Olympics team will host regional qualifying events in each of the following sports: basketball, soccer, bocce, and track & field. 

Teachers interested in registering for a tournament can do so online via our registration page on the website. Upon registration, a confirmation email will be sent out with payment instructions (tournaments are $5 per student), as well as the tournament rules. During online registration, educators will be asked to rank the ability level of their team(s). Instructions are included in the registration information, however should you wish to clarify your team’s ranking, an educator can complete our option Skills Assessment test for each athlete and submit their results to the Four Corners team. The results of this test contain crucial information that enable the Four Corners team to properly division all teams prior to the tournament. This ensures that teams will only compete against those of similar ability levels to maintain an equitable and fair competition for all. All skill and experience levels are encouraged to participate as each team has an equal opportunity to advance to the Provincial Championships. 

Each school may enter multiple teams into each qualifying event. The number of team entries allowed per school differs depending on the sport. Please see each individual sport page for more details. 

Each team may only participate in one regional qualifier per sport per season. For example: if a team participates in the Toronto basketball qualifier, they may not register for any other basketball qualifiers for the year, however they can register for bocce, soccer and track and field. 

Please note: the Provincial Championships for all sports take place simultaneously at the same location. Therefore a team may only participate in one sport at the Provincials. If a team qualifies in two sports, they must choose which single sport to participate in.  


Advancement to the Provincial Championships 

For basketball, soccer, and bocce:


Special Olympics teams that compete in lower and middle skill levels will have as equal an opportunity to advance to the Provincial Championships as those teams who participate in a more advanced skill level.  To ensure that this opportunity is available, team selection is determined by the team’s performance relative to other teams of equal skill level.  


Prior to the start of competition, teams participate in a skills assessment test to determine the ability level or division in which they will compete.  During competition, teams play a round robin tournament to determine the first, second, third, etc. place teams within each division. 

Teams are awarded 3 points for a win, 2 points for a tie, and 1 point for a loss. Advancement is determined based on the highest total points across the tournament teams. 

Total point tie breaking will occur in the following succession:

·         Highest game points

·         Head to head results

·         Lowest points against average

·         Highest points for average 

 The team with the highest game points at each regional qualifier will qualify for the Provincials pending final endorsement from the Four Corners team and educators at the qualifying school. The final team spots will be filled by the four teams with the highest game point totals from all eight regional qualifiers. Any tie breaking will follow the same rules as mentioned above. Teams will be notified of qualification following the final regional qualifier for each sport. 

For track & field: 

Students attempting to qualify for the Provincial Championships must compete in at least 3 of the 4 following events:

·         Shot put

·         Standing long jump

·         100m

·         200m 

Athletes of similar ability levels will be placed in divisions prior to the regional qualifier based on the results from the skills assessment test each educator must complete and submit 7 days prior to competition. Athletes will be awarded points based on their placement within an event as follows:

1st Place-10                           2nd Place-8                             3rd Place-6            

4th Place-4                             5th Place-2                             6-8th Place-0

Do not Start / Finish = 0 pts

Disqualification = 0 pts

Athletes’ scores in each of their events will be totaled and accumulated points will be divided by the number of events the athlete is entered into, establishing an average point score for the athlete. 

Each regional qualifier will be given a qualifying athlete quota depending on the total number of participants at the meet.  Once athlete quotas have been determined by the Four Corners team, athletes with the highest ranked cumulative score will become the candidates for primary consideration in advancing to Provincial Games. Athletes are qualified pending final endorsement from the Four Corners team and educators at the qualified school.

In the event of a tie, the following criteria will be used:

a.   Most first place finishes at the Regional Qualifier

b.   Most second place finishes at the Regional Qualifier

c.   Most third place finishes at the Regional Qualifier

Comments are closed.