ALPs Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Why is Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) important?
A: There are numerous reasons why ALPs is important:
     - Special Olympics Missouri is FOR the athletes, it should be BY the athletes as well
     - It provides an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to learn new skills and shows them how to use them to become leaders within the program and in their communities

Q: What makes a good athlete-leader?
A: Someone who is willing to learn, which also means they are willing to struggle and step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves.

Q: What makes a good mentor?
A: Someone who is committed to the overall goals of ALPs and is willing to give constructive criticism to and not coddle the athlete they are mentoring in order to hold them accountable. For a full list of what we look for in a mentor, click here.

Q: Do I need to have a mentor to go through ALPs University?
A: Not necessarily. We think that a mentor is an invaluable part of the learning process to keep our athlete-leaders on track and engaged. However, we recognize that some of our athletes may feel they don't need a mentor to be successful. For that reason, we are open to the idea of you doing this on your own. You need to fill out an application first.

Q: As a mentor, what's my time commitment?
A: It truly depends on what major your athlete-leader takes, but you should expect anywhere betweeen 5-10 hours per month AFTER an ALPs University to help complete the homework and at the most attending two ALPs Universities per year, which are on the weekends.

Q: What if I do not have a mentor?
A: SOMO staff will work with you to help find you a mentor, but you must let us know ASAP.

Q: How do people become mentors?
A: Mentors must fill out a Class A application and provide a copy of their photo ID to their area program staff. The Class A Volunteer Application can be found on our website at

Q: How often are ALPs trainings held?
A: Currently we hold two ALPs Universities per year and they are on the weekends.

Q: Can I skip an ALPs University if it doesn't fit in my schedule?
A: Absolutely. You are allowed to miss up to four ALPs Universities in a row before you would need to re-take any classes.

Q: When/how do I declare a major?
A: Each athlete must take “Intro to ALPs” at their first ALPs University. At the completion of this course, each athlete is asked to write a personal mission statement that will help them declare a major. They will end up choosing two majors they’re and ranking them by interest level.

Q: How do I pick my course schedule once I have determined my major?
A: Athletes will pick a total of 16 credit hours’ worth of classes from their major and then must pick one elective outside their major. In total, athlete-leaders need a total of 20 credit hours to graduate not including their Intro to ALPs or Capstone courses. There are plenty of different courses you can take, but not all are offered at the same university.

Q: When must the homework be completed for each course?
A: Homework for each course must be completed 3 weeks PRIOR to the next scheduled ALPs University.

Q: Can mentors whose athlete is going through the coaching major become a certified coach as well?
A: Mentors may count the general session, principles of coaching, concussion and CPR trainings toward their coach certification process, however, they must attend a separate sport specific training outside of ALPs University. Be mindful that the focus in the first coaching class will be on the athlete-leaders first and the mentors second.

Q: What is the Leadership Capstone?
A: The Leadership Capstone is the final course that must be taken prior to graduation. This will include a final project that must come back to benefit SOMO in some way. If you choose to come back to ALPs U and declare another major after graduation, you will need to re-take the Capstone class again as the focus will always be on your major at that time. 

Q: What majors are currently offered through ALPs University?
A: As of September 2017, we currently offer Communication, Technology, Governance, Health and Coaching as majors athlete-leaders can take.  We have courses in the Leadership for Life track that can be taken as electives but we do not currently offer it as a major.

Q: Can I only graduate from one major?
A: Absolutely not!  You may graduate from multiple majors, but you can only be enrolled in one major at one time. We would ask you to consider only taking on what you think you can do to succeed as there is homework and practicum hours associated with all courses.

Q: Is there a fee to participate in ALPs University?
A: Yes, there is a fee of $75 for athlete-leaders to attend ALPs University. This includes all of your meals and housing while you are in attendance. Mentors do not have to pay.

Q: How do I register for ALPs University?
A: Registration is available online.  The online registration requires payment by credit/debit card so if you do not have either, then you may sign up online using the "scholarship" option and mail in a check to 1001 Diamond Ridge, Suite 800, Jefferson City, MO 65109 with "ALPs University" in the memo line. 

Q: Should the athlete and mentor register together?
A: Yes, we ask the athlete and mentor to register together.