ALPs Courses

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 descriptions are below. 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.

Sample path to graduation (Technology major):

  • Intro to ALPs (eight hours)
  • Internet/Email (four hours) -- first class in Technology major
  • Social Media/Blogging (four hours)
  • Photography (four hours)
  • Google Slides (four hours)
  • Personal Finances (four hours) -- elective/class not in their major
  • Capstone (two 4-hour classes)

NOTE: For the most part classes in your major and your elective may be taken at ANY time that best suits you.

Classes everyone must take:

  • Intro to ALPs (8 hours): The first class everyone will take at an ALPs University. Covers what Athlete Leadership is and what it means to be a leader, the roles available to athlete-leaders within SOMO, potential roadblocks and barriers, personal mission statements, different leadership styles, personality quizzes, etc.
  • Capstone (two 4-hour classes hours): The final class everyone will take at an ALPs University. Focuses on the difference between effective and enduring leaders through project-based teachings and discussions. Most of the class will be spent identifying the athlete-leader's final project.

Other classes to choose from (also see course map below):

  • Global Messenger I (8 hours) -- Communications: The first class in Special Olympics' public-speaking major. Right now, this is only offered for SOMO athletes who participate or who have participated in at least one sport. Talks about the SOMO mission, parts of a speech, how to prepare for a speech and how to give a speech. Communication majors MUST Take this class before they take any other Communication courses. It can also be taken as an elective for athlete-leaders majoring in something different. 
  • Global Messenger II (8 hours) -- Communications: The second class in the public-speaking major. Delves deeper into the many different kinds of speeches and how each one is different.
  • Engaged Storytelling for Active Performers (4 hours) -- Communications: SOMO knows that giving a speech in front of a crowd isn't for everybody, nor is it the only way to share your story, so this class gives you another way to do so through acting and improv.

  • How to serve on a board (4 hours) -- Governance: Teaches athlete-leaders Robert's Rules of Order for meetings, how to be an effective board of directors member.
  • How to serve on a committee (4 hours) -- Governance: Teaches athlete-leaders all of the different committees SOMO has for fundraising events and competitions and how to effectively make a different by serving on a committee.
  • Athlete Input Councils (4 hours) -- Governance: How to share your opinion, how to actively listen to other opinions and work through disagreements, how to gather opinions and share them with others in order to enact change, etc.

  • Internet/Email (4 hours) -- Technology: The first class in the technology major. How to use email, search engines, and the internet. Technology majors MUST Take this class before they take any other Technology courses. It can also be taken as an elective for athlete-leaders majoring in something different. 
  • Google Slides (4 hours) -- Technology: The equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint, but this program is free to use.
  • Photography (4 hours) -- Technology: How to use a DSLR camera to compose, take and edit photos.
  • Phone Photography (4 hours) -- Technology: How to use a phone (iPhone or Android) to take and edit photos.
  • Videography: Behind the Camera (4 hours) -- Technology: How to use a videocamera when on a location and in a studio.
  • Videography: Journalism (4 hours) -- Technology: How to conduct interviews, ask the right questions and conduct yourself while on camera.
  • Videography: Studio (4 hours) -- Technology: How to set up a studio for a three-camera shoot, run the lights and soundboard.
  • Videography: Editing (4 hours) -- Technology: How to edit video clips using a computer program.
  • Social Media/Blogging (4 hours) -- Technology: How to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social media sites to tell your story.

  • Intro to Coaching (4 hours) -- Coaching: Before signing up for the coaching major, you MUST get the commitment and approval of your current coach that they'll help you. You also need to know ahead of time that whatever sport you want to coach means that you cannot compete in that sport. Always wanted to be a SOMO coach? Well, this is your chance! Learn what it means to be a coach, find your own coaching style and learn first aid certification and concussion protocols. Coaching majors MUST Take this class before they take any other Coaching courses. It can also be taken as an elective for athlete-leaders majoring in something different. 
  • Coaching Behind the Scenes (4 hours) -- Coaching: Focuses on the best way to teach and train SOMO athletes as a coach. Puts you in position to set up and run a mock practice after reading through a rulebook. You will also learn how to put a roster together and other paperwork.
  • Sport Psychology (4 hours) -- Coaching: Teaches different mental skills that athletes can use to help overcome competition stress/anxiety, build confidence, improve focus and even recover from injury more effectively. 
  • Coaching Etiquette (4 hours) -- Coaching: What kind of coach will you be? This class will help you figure out how to motivate your players to be the best they can be.

  • Lifetime Health and Fitness (4 hours) -- Health: Basics of how to live a healthy life. Outlines what is covered when our athletes go through Healthy Athletes and how you can educate your teammates. Health majors MUST Take this class before they take any other Health courses. It can also be taken as an elective for athlete-leaders majoring in something different. 
  • Nutrition & You (4 hours) -- Health: You can't be healthy if you don't know how to take care of your body through exercise and nutrition. Learn basic nutrition lessons in this class.
  • Health Messengers (4 hours) -- Health: Teaches athlete-leaders how to talk about being healthy to other athletes or potential sponsors. Gives you basic information on how to write and give a speech that's focused on health and wellness as your topic.
  • Exercise Science 101 (4 hours) -- Health: Focuses on what exercises help you depending on what sports you play. Quick overview on all different kinds of exercising. Teaches difference between training vs. exercise, exercise intensity, nutrition, weight-room basics and more.

  • Personal Finances (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life: How to set and maintain a budget, read financial statements and more.
  • Teamwork/Problem Solving (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life: Problems happen each and every day. It's how you choose to deal with those problems that determine whether you're a successful leader or not. This class teaches you techniques of how to work in a team and solve problems together.
  • Social Etiquette/Professionalism (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life: Puts athlete-leaders in different social situations through role-playing and gets them to understand that everyone thinks differently while training them to pick up on certain social cues that would help them read a situation better.
  • Job Application Skills (4 hours) -- Leadership for Life: Goes through basic skills people need to know when applying for jobs, such as how to write a resume, how to interview, societal norms in the workplace and more.


While we don't offer all of these classes at every ALPs University, there's a good chance we will offer each class at least once per year.

You can see the full course map below for an idea of how you'd progress during your time enrolled in ALPs University.