If you're new to ALPs, please find out more information below and email us if you have any questions.

Are you an athlete-leader or mentor who has attended at least one ALPs University? Click here.


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 and where they can make a difference for the organization they love. 

Non-SOMO athletes: You do not have to be a current SOMO athlete to get involved with this program. We are open to ALL people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. We will still need a physical for you even if you choose not to participate in one of our sports. For more details on eligibility for non-SOMO athletes, please click here.

You belong (yes, YOU!): ALPs truly is a program for every single person with an intellectual or developmental disability; SOMO is committed to making sure every one of you 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.

2020 dates:
March 6-8 at the University of Missouri in Columbia -- Registration is now CLOSED
October 9-11 (DATE CHANGE!) at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg (SAVE THE DATE -- Registration will open in August)

Links to sections on this page
What makes a leader?

What's a mentor?
Courses offered
Sponsor an athlete-leader

ALPs Brochure
ALPs Frequently Asked Questions
ALPs Scholarship Form
Mentor handout
Practicum Form



How do we train leaders?

The way in which we train our SOMO athletes to become athlete-leaders is through ALPs University. This is a weekend-long educational program for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities that offers classes in a variety of leadership topics. 

How often: We hold two ALPs Universities per year and will announce the dates and locations here as they become available. Athlete-leaders will need to attend at least THREE universities before they can graduate. They are allowed to skip up to four in a row if the dates don't fit their schedules.

Next ALPs U: The NEXT ALPs University is scheduled for March 6-8, 2020, at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Registration for that weekend will open in January, but save the date! Registration for the weekend is $75/athlete-leader, which includes housing and all meals for the weekend. NEW: MENTORS WILL NOT BE CHARGED TO ATTEND ALPs UNIVERSITY.

Each athlete MUST have a mentor BEFORE they can register (more on mentors below). Transportation to and from each university is on your own.

Have an idea of what interests you as an athlete-leader: While athlete-leaders won't officially declare a major until they're in their Introduction to ALPs course on Friday, 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.

Questions: Please email Brandon Schatsiek.

Cutoff date to register for ALPs University is always three weeks prior to the state of the University. 



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. Be aware that this is a commitment of at least 18 months (only ~5 hours per month on average though). At MOST, you will attend two weekend training sessions per year. Those training sessions are flexible to where if you can't make that weekend or if you can only attend on one day that weekend, it's okay. You and your athlete-leader will progress through the program at your own pace.

What we look for in a mentor:

  • The desire to help an athlete obtain skills and become a leader within the organization and their community
  • Read through and agree with duties outlined in the mentor contract
  • Willingness to attend ALPs Universities and work with your athlete-leader to complete their practicum for each class
  • Good organizational skills
  • Good oral and written skills
  • Good listening skills
  • Ability to problem solve and explain something to people with intellectual disabilities in a way they can understand
  • Someone who embraces the philosophy of Special Olympics
  • Completion of a Class A Volunteer Form (before ALPs U) and ability to clear requisite background check
  • Completion of Protective Behaviors training (before ALPs U) and Mentor Class (during ALPs U)

NEW: Parents are now able to mentor their own children in ALPs. We hope this change makes it easier for our athletes to go through the program and become the leaders they aspire to be.

For more information about mentors, click here.


Course Listing

ALPs offers a wide variety of classes available for potential athlete-leaders to take depending on what most interests them. From public speaking to technology to governance to job skills, there's a class and a major for everyone.

Class titles are below, but if you want full descriptions on each course including and a course map outlining how each major works, click here. Regardless of what major an athlete-leader takes, they will complete at least 32 hours of coursework before they can graduate. This will be spread over multiple universities as the most any one athlete-leader can take in one weekend of an ALPs University is 16 hours. Most athlete-leaders will need to attend between three and four universities in order to graduate. We offer two universities per year (spring/fall). You do not need to attend every university every year. You can skip up to four in a row before potentially losing class credit.

Courses everyone must take:

  • Intro to ALPs (8 hours)
  • Capstone I (4 hours) & Capstone II (4 hours)


Courses to choose from:

  • Global Messenger I (8 hours) -- Communications
  • Global Messenger II (8 hours) -- Communications
  • Engaged Storytelling for Active Performers (4 hours) -- Communications
  • Boards and Committees (8 hours) -- Governance
  • Athlete Input Councils (8 hours) -- Governance
  • Internet/Email (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Google Slides (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Photography (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Videography: Behind the Camera (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Videography: On-Camera (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Videography: Journalism (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Videography: Editing (4 hours) -- Technology
  • Social Media/Blogging (4 hours) -- Technology
  • General Session/Principles of Coaching (8 hours) -- Coaching
  • Coaching: Behind the Scenes (4 hours) -- Coaching
  • Sport Psychology (4 hours) -- Coaching
  • Lifetime Health and Fitness (4 hours) -- Health
  • Exercise Science 101 (4 hours) -- Health
  • Health Messengers (4 hours) -- Health
    Teamwork & Problem Solving (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life
    Fundraising for Athletes (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life
  • Personal Finances (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life
  • Social Etiquette/Professionalism (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life
  • Job Application Skills (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life


For an athlete-leader to receive credit for taking a class, they will need to complete a practicum/homework. Each class has its own practicum and how much time you spend on it depends on how long the class is. If you took Global Messenger 1, which is an eight-hour course, your practicum will involve more work than if you took Internet/Email, which is a four-hour class.

All of the projects are pass/fail. As long as the instructors can tell you made an effort to complete every outlined task, you will receive credit. If you ever have questions about your practicum while you are working on it, please don't hesitate to reach out to your instructors who taught that specific class. Looking for the practicum form? Click here!

Still have questions about ALPs? Visit our FAQ page here.

Sponsor an athlete-leader