Be an Athlete
Special Olympics athletes have fun, make friends and are empowered to succeed on & off the field
Join Our Team as a Special Olympics Athlete
How to Become a Special Olympics Athlete
to Become an Athlete
Register yourself or someone in your care by following these 3 steps:
View the list of sports available in your county from Your Local Program.
After completing sections A-G, you will need to printout Page 4 for a medical clearance in Section H.
Schedule a physical exam with a licensed medical examiner to have them complete Section H of Page 4, making sure they complete the signature and date fields.
Your Athlete Application
We’re excited for you (or someone in your care) to continue your Special Olympics athlete experience!
You should renew your Athlete Application if your Athlete Application will expire in the next four months; or has expired within the last 12 months and you’ve not had any changes in your health history since the last physical exam. If you have had changes or your application expired more than 12 months ago, please restart your application process by following the steps for Register to Become an Athlete.
You can always Check Your Application Status with a few simple steps.
Note: If using DocuSign, once you’ve completed sections A-F and finish the DocuSign, no further action is required. Please keep a copy of the DocuSign application for your records (you will have the option to download and will also receive via email)
Register between November 15 – December 10 of the previous year
Bocce, Swimming, Tennis, Track & Field
Register between February 1 – 28
Softball (June – August)
Golf (July – September)
Register between May 15 – June 10
Unified Flag Football, Soccer (August – November)
Register between July 15 – August 15
Bowling (September – December)
Register between August 1 – 31
Floor Hockey (October – December)
Register between August 1 – 31
Special Olympics athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities. An intellectual disability (or ID) is used to describe certain limitations in cognitive functioning and other skills, including communication, learning and self-care. Down syndrome and autism are common forms of ID, and there are many others.
Athletes can begin participating at age 2 with the Young Athletes Program, begin training at age 6 and compete at age 8. There is no maximum age limit for Special Olympics – and some athletes participate into their 80s.
Special Olympics offers up to 11 different sports in 43 counties across Northern California. Visit the Find a Program page to learn about programs in your area.
In addition to 11 different sports, Special Olympics Northern California athletes may participate in a variety of non-competitive programs:
- Athlete Leadership – Training in public speaking, presentations and professional development.
- Health & Wellness – Health screenings, resources and classes, virtual social activities and more.
- Schools Partnership Program – Focusing on inclusion in K-transition schools. Students with and without disabilities benefit from Unified Sports, ability-awareness assemblies, respect campaigns and leadership opportunities.
- Young Athletes Program – Designed for children ages 2–9 as a fun introduction to the world of sports.
There are many ways to volunteer and support Special Olympics athletes. You can help out at a special event or competition, become a coach, or get in the game as a Unified partner. Unified partners are volunteers without disabilities who play in select sports alongside athletes on the same teams.
Joining Special Olympics proved to be the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. It has allowed me to create a large network of friends while also increasing my strength, and self-confidence.
Special Olympics Athlete