Athlete Leadership Programs

Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) provides training for athletes who wish to expand their role in Special Olympics Missouri to much more than just on the field of competition. Our athletes learn how to achieve success, joy and acceptance on the field of competition, while Athlete Leadership Programs teach them how to achieve those same goals and feel just as empowered while off the field of competition as respected leaders and spokespeople in their communities. Throughout Special Olympics, athletes take on roles and responsibilities from many different ALPs initiatives. They can work as employees of Special Olympics programs, speak on behalf of SOMO as Global Messengers, serve as coaches and volunteers, officiate competitions and represent other athletes as part of the SOMO Input Council.

ALPs truly is a program for every single one of our athletes and SOMO is committed to making sure  every athlete feels welcome in this setting. It’s important for potential athlete-leaders to recognize that this program will push you. It will be hard work and the expectation is that you will attend classes, be attentive and engaged and complete homework for every class. You will get out of this class what you’re willing to put in, so long as you’re willing to work hard, you will excel.

We are still currently in the process of forming what SOMO's Athlete Leadership Programs will look like and what it will offer to our athletes, so if you have ideas, please email us.

ALPs University
What's a mentor?
Course map
ALPs Initiatives
Global Messengers

2017 dates

May 19-21 at Lindenwood University (St. Louis) -- CANCELLED
Nov. 10-12 at William Woods University (Fulton) -- Registration will open in August

ALPs Brochure
ALPs Frequently Asked Questions
ALPs Scholarship Form
Transfer to another major form
Athlete-Mentor contracts
Mentor handout
Practicum form

ALPs University

ALPs University is a weekend-long educational program for Special Olympics athletes that offers classes in a variety of leadership topics. Students and graduates of ALPs University will work with area programs to promote, support and improve Special Olympics Missouri. As it was mentioned above, we are still currently in the process of developing what ALPs University will look like, but if you're interested in serving on the management team, please let us know.

We plan on holding two ALPs Universities per year and will announce the dates and locations here as soon as they're available, but if you want to be put on the email listserve of people we notify once we set the dates, email Brandon. To sign up for the next ALPs University, click the date of the next one above.

SOMO's first ALPs University was held in Nov. 2015 and had 17 athlete-leaders and mentors in attendance. The second ALPs University (June 17-19) had 19 athlete-leaders and mentors. Our third ALPs U (Oct. 28-30, 2016) saw 22 athlete-leaders in attendance.

The fourth ALPs University is scheduled for
Nov. 10-12 at William Woods University in Fulton. Registration for the weekend is $75/mentor and $75/athlete-leader, which includes housing and all meals.

Classes we're FOR SURE offering at the Nov. 10-12 ALPs University:
Communications: Global Messenger I
Communications: Global Messenger II
Communications: Engaged Storytelling for Active Performers
Governance: Input Councils
Coaching: General Session/Principles/Concussion/CPR
Coaching: Sports Lessons*
Coaching: Sport Psychology
Technology: Email/Internet
Health: Intro to Health
Health: Exercise Science 101

* denotes new classes

Each athlete MUST have a mentor BEFORE they can register and it cannot be their parent. Mentors can be with one athlete-leader at a time. Transportation to and from William Woods University is on your own.

While athlete-leaders won't officially declare a major until they're in their Introduction to ALPs course on the first day, it's a good idea to look at the majors and courses available below, so you have an idea of what each one has to offer.

For returning athlete-leaders who have attended prior Global Messenger trainings (last two years) or the ALPs University in November 2015, June 2016 or Oct. 2016 they need to make note of what classes they're going to take in November 2017.

Cutoff date to register for ALPs University is Oct. 20.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please email Brandon Schatsiek.

Nov. 10-12 ALPs University Class Schedule  (coming soon!)


If you are interested in making an indelible difference in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, becoming a Special Olympics Missouri mentor is a unique way to do so.

Being a mentor is a great way to take your involvement with Special Olympics Missouri to the next level by being a one-on-one leadership coach for an athlete in your area. You don't need any expertise to get involved, only a passion for helping our athletes become athlete-leaders in the SO movement and in their communities.

Mentors cannot be the parents of the athlete-leader. If both a parent and an athlete-leader want to attend an ALPs University, we suggest that you find another parent/athlete-leader combo from your area and be the other person's mentor. We will allow siblings or aunts/uncles and other family members to be mentors, but we prefer that find a mentor outside of their family.

During the first hour of ALPs University, every mentor will attend a one-hour class laying out their expectations and requirements as mentors. We want to make sure everyone is on the same page going into this process.

More than anything, a mentor is there to assist the athlete-leader ONLY when it is needed. A mentor isn't there to do the work for them, but to help them find what they're looking for and to be a critical part of the feedback process. Mentors aren't supposed to coddle the athlete-leader and give them only nice feedback, they need to be confident and okay with being critical, knowing that in the end the athlete-leader will be better for it.

So whether you’re a special education teacher, a paraprofessional educator or someone who is just ready to get more involved with Special Olympics, you can make a huge difference in our athletes’ lives by mentoring them as they look to become leaders in their community.

By signing up, you’re agreeing to a one-on-one relationship with our athletes as you two attend (at most) two ALPs Universities per year and work with them as they complete their practicum for each class they take.

For more information on ALPs University and being a mentor for a SOMO athlete email Brandon Schatsiek at

Practicum tracking

For those of you who have completed an ALPs University session, you will need to complete a practicum (homework) before you can move on to the next course in your major. Each class has its own specific lesson plan and practicum, but all of them must be completed three weeks before the very next University session.

It is completely on you and your mentor to make sure the practicum is finished in the time that's allowed. If there are extenuating circumstances that do not allow you to complete your practicum in time, you may fill out a request for an extension. If you don't ask for an extension and don't complete the practicum in time, you won't receive credit for the class. You will either have to finish the required practicum AND complete an extra task or two OR not receive credit for that class. 

To show that you completed your practicum, you must fill out the practicum tracker paper version for every class you've taken. For example, if you take three classes, you will fill out three separate practicum forms and send each one to the instructor of that class (their contact information will be in that class's handbook). They will sign it and forward to SOMO and then it's out of your hands. 

If you have questions, just email Brandon.

SOMO ALPs Brochure

ALPs course map

ALPs Initiatives

Athletes on the Board of Directors (currently offer)
One athlete presently serves on the Special Olympics Missouri Board of Directors.

Athletes as Spokespersons (currently offer) 
Through the Global Messenger program, athletes undergo training to act as spokespersons on behalf of Special Olympics.

Athletes in Training for Leadership (currently offer)
Athletes are encouraged to participate in the leadership training programs offered through ALPs University.

Athletes as Committee Members (currently offer) 
Athletes serve on a variety of local, area, and state committees, Games Management Teams and Games Evaluation Teams. The statewide Athlete Input Council is made up of a group of athletes who represent athletes throughout Missouri by gathering suggestions and developing recommendations for Special Olympics Missouri. If athletes are interested in serving on a committee, contact your local area staff. If athletes are interested in serving on the Athlete Input Council, which allows athletes to have input on important SOMO program-related decisions, let us know.

Athletes as Coaches (currently offer)
Through ALPs, athletes receive training to serve as coaches for Special Olympics Missouri sports teams throughout the year.

Athletes as Officials
Through ALPs, athletes receive training to serve as officials for Special Olympics Missouri sporting events throughout the year.

Athletes as Volunteers (currently offer) 
Athletes join the volunteer forces of Special Olympics Missouri by helping out with sporting events, fundraising events and other activities throughout the year.

Athletes as Storytellers (currently offer) 
Athletes contribute to Special Olympics Missouri blog posts and other communications projects.

Global Messengers

One aspect of ALPs is the Global Messenger program. Becoming a Global Messenger allows our athletes to learn about the history of Special Olympics, what it means to be an athlete with an intellectual disability and what their personal Special Olympics story is all while gaining the confidence and skills to give public speeches.

In addition to offering them at ALPs Universities (more below), typical Global Messenger trainings are offered a couple of times a year in different areas of the state and limited to a small group of participants. These trainings are as much about teaching the athletes about public speaking as it is helping them find their voice. If you're interested in taking Global Messenger at the area level, please let us know.

Are you looking for a speaker at your next function or meeting?  Special Olympics Missouri is proud to send athletes to your school or place of business to speak on our behalf.  It offers you the opportunity to learn more about Special Olympics Missouri and how it benefits individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports.  Who better to tell the story of Special Olympics than the athletes?  That’s why when you book your next public speaker, you will want to choose one of our trained Global Messengers. Each one has completed the Global Messenger Training program and has first-hand experience of how Special Olympics has changed their lives.

So why wait – just email us today!   All we ask is that you make your request at least four weeks in advance to allow for our athletes and volunteers to request time off work and prepare their presentation.


To be eligible to attend ALPs University as a SOMO athlete-leader, you must first be a SOMO athlete. This doesn't mean you have to compete in a sport to take part in ALPs, it simply means we will classify you as an official athlete first for you to be involved.

To be a SOMO athlete, you must be at least eight years old and be identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following:

  • An intellectual disability
  • Closely-relateld developmental, which means having functional limitations in both general learning and in adaptive skills such as recreation, work, independent living, self-direction, or self-care.

To ensure the safety of our athletes and volunteers, the Special Olympics Missouri Board of Directors adopted on April 28, 2007, the “Athlete and Volunteer Policy and Missouri’s Registration of Sex Offenders.”

For more information on eligibility click here.

If you aren't currently registered as a SOMO athlete, there are just a few simple steps before you can take part in any of the programs Special Olympics Missouri offers:

1. Find your Area Director.

2. Download and complete physical and release forms, or request them from your Area Director. Every athlete is required to have a current physical and release form to practice & compete. Physicals are good for approximately 3 years - read more on our physical policy here.

3. Contact Athlete Leadership Manager Brandon Schatsiek and let him know that you're interested in becoming a leader in your community!

May 19-21 ALPs University Registration

UPDATE: The May 19-21 ALPs University has been cancelled due to a low registrant count. We are weighing our options of re-scheduling or just cancelling and shifting our focus to the one in November. We will update this website when we have made our decision. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Below is the online registration for the May 19-21 ALPs University at Lindenwood University in St. Louis (class schedule coming soon). Registration per person is $75 this includes all meals, housing and registration. If you don't need housing or plan to stay somewhere on your own, registration is only $25 per person.

Register as early as possible because slots will fill up quickly and we're only taking the first 40 athlete-leaders to register! Registration closes May 1 or when we reach out 40 athlete-leader maximum. We have a minimum number of athlete-leaders needed to hold this event at 15. So please recruit other athlete-leaders and mentors to ensure we have this event.

ATHLETE-LEADERS: You can not register until you have a mentor lined up to attend with you. Whether you are a returning athlete-leader or a new athlete-leader, please make sure your mentor can attend before you sign up. First priority will be given to those athlete-leaders who have already found a mentor. If you're having trouble finding a mentor, email

MENTORS: You cannot be the parent of the athlete-leader you'd like to mentor. If you are in that situation and want to mentor, we suggest you contact Brandon or your area staff to see if anyone from the same city as you plans on attending and you can swap athlete-leaders to mentor. If you don't have an athlete in mind to sign up with and still want to mentor someone, email

CURRENT STUDENTS: If you attended the ALPs University in October at the Kansas City Police Academy, you have to complete your practicum and turn it in (for ALL classes, including Intro to ALPs) before you can attend this ALPs University in May 2017 (NO EXCEPTIONS!). You can still register for this one in May now, but your practicum needs to be completed, signed by you AND your mentor and turned in to your instructor of that class by April 26. If it's not completed and turned in in time, you will have to either re-take classes or forfeit your spot at this University to someone else. We prefer that you use the same mentor as before if possible.

Also, returning students do not need to arrive until Saturday morning for registration. You only have to attend for the days that you need classes. You're more than welcome to still show up early, but it's not necessary. You're more than welcome to take extra classes if you'd like to show up early, but it offers you flexibility. NOTE: If you aren't planning on showing up until Saturday or Sunday, the registration fee is still $75 if you're planning on using our housing we have set up. Please let us know well in advance if you aren't showing up until later in the weekend.

If you cannot attend on Sunday, you're more than welcome to still attend on Friday and/or Saturday. Just let us know that you can only attend a specific amount of time.

ROOMING: When you register, SOMO will set up your housing for you. We are planning on using Lindenwood University's housing. Two people per room. We will place you in a room with an athlete or mentor of the same gender if the paired mentor and athlete-leader aren't of the same gender. If you don't plan on staying with us, the registration fee is only $25.

PAYMENT: We really want all registrations and payments to be processed online via the registration below, but if you need to send a check, please put "ALPs May 19-21" in the memo line) and send it to 1001 Diamond Ridge, Suite 800, Jefferson City, MO 65109. No money will be collected on-site of the University.

DEADLINE: Registration deadline is May 1 OR when we meet our 40-athlete-leader limit.


Ready to register? Click the appropriate button below!