Athlete Leadership

What is Athlete Leadership?

New to Athlete Leadership?

Please contact Kayla Hull to set up a virtual "Introduction to Athlete Leadership" and "Understanding Leadership" course. These courses are required for ALL athlete leaders to take prior to taking any other athlete leadership coursework.

Taking a virtual "Introduction" class is a great way for new athlete leaders to “test the waters” and make sure that Athlete Leadership is a good fit for them.

Note: If you take this course virtually, you WILL NOT need to take it again at ALPs University.

Upcoming trainings:

Join us for the upcoming 2023 Spring ALPs University weekend Mar. 30-April 2, 2023, at the Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City.

Here's a recap of our last ALPs University weekend Sept. 23-25, 2022, at the Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City.

What is ALPs University?

Special Olympics Missouri’s Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) provide an opportunity for all of our athletes to pursue higher education. There are a variety of majors athlete leaders can choose to study to further their education. ALPs University is truly a program for EVERYONE, regardless of their learning style or prior education.

ALPs teaches our athletes how to apply their same passion and ability to learn in sports to the classroom. Our athlete leaders are empowered and challenged through our ALPs University program offerings. Throughout Special Olympics Missouri, athlete leaders take on impactful roles and responsibilities from many different ALPs initiatives, as well as in the workforce.

Quote from Athlete Leader Anna McDaniel (SOMO Board Member and Athlete Leadership Council President):

“My name is Anna McDaniel, and I have been a Special Olympics Missouri athlete for 20 years. I majored in coach and health degree in the ALPs program with SOMO in 2022. Special Olympics Missouri has greatly impacted my life by making friends for a lifetime, learning things I'm interested in and so much more through playing sports. Now, I’m enrolled in ALPs University training, and I am a stronger and more confident person.”

Quote from Athlete Leader Drew Thompson:

"My name is Drew Thompson, and I have been a Special Olympian in Missouri for 18 years. I have been involved with the SOMO ALPs program, and I majored in Nutrition in 2022. The impact it has had already on my life is that it gave me confidence to be able to speak in front of others, learn healthy habits and make new friends across Missouri. I enjoyed the support that I was given, along with the challenges and motivation to learn something new. ALPs University allows me to be part of a different kind of team with SOMO, and I feel like I have really accomplished something. This has encouraged me to help my fellow athlete friends to live healthy lives and be a part of a community, and that is something I want to do."

Quote from a parent of a SOMO Athlete Leader:

“Athlete Leadership is a stepping stone. When your child gets out of school, this is a college geared toward them. It shows them their strengths and urges them to use them. My daughter refers to this as her college and that’s exactly what it is.”

If you have any questions, please reach out to Kayla Hull: hull@somo.org.

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!): Athlete Leadership 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.

What athlete-leaders like about Athlete Leadership:

  • Opportunity to build relationships outside sports
  • "Helped me overcome my fear of public speaking"
  • Learned practical skills like balancing a checkbook
  • Gained self-confidence
  • "It's helped me uncover things I never knew about myself. I wouldn't be who am I today without (it)"

"Going out there and proving yourself to people who are saying just because you have a disability you can't go to college, or drive, or get a job. To be independent means to prove them wrong."

-- Athlete-Leader

Everything you need to know about Athlete Leadership

An athlete-leader takes notes during an Athlete Leadership class while their mentor looks on

"Athlete Leadership is a stepping stone. When your child gets out of school, this is a college geared toward them. It shows them their strengths and urges them to use them. My daughter refers to this as her college and that's exactly what it is."

- Parent of a SOMO Athlete-Leader