Become an Athlete

Image 73At Special Olympics, we believe that sports can teach us all important lessons.

When we train and strive for a goal, it teaches us to dream. When we struggle, it teaches us determination. When we win, we find joy. And if we lose, we find the strength to try again.

Our sports events bring together a large and inclusive community of athletes, supporters and families, coaches, volunteers, and many others. The athletes are at the center of it all. They become the heroes — to the shared joy of themselves, their families, and their communities.

Special Olympics competitions help us all rediscover the purity of sports — and real athletic pursuits — based on true Olympic ideals.

NEW ATHLETES – Confirm Your Eligibility

When you choose to take your place among Special Olympics Pennsylvania athletes, you’re joining a group of strong, ambitious competitors.  Special Olympics athletes are 8 years or older and have an intellectual disability, a cognitive delay, or a developmental disability.   If you would like to receive an Athlete Enrollment Packet please complete our Athlete Interest Form.  To see the sports we offer, please check out our Community-Based Program.

Children with intellectual disabilities ages 2 through 7 can take part in the Young Athletes program, either at home or through a nearby Special Olympics program.  People without intellectual disabilities can take part in Unified Sports, teams that mix people with and without intellectual disabilities. There is no maximum age for participation in Special Olympics. 

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics as an athlete, individuals must have an intellectual disability; a cognitive delay, or a developmental disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills. If you are unsure if you or the athlete you are signing up are eligible, take a look at our Statement of Eligibility (PDF). People without intellectual disabilities can take part in Unified Sports teams that bring people with and without intellectual disabilities together to train and compete on the same teams.  If you would like more information about becoming a Unified Partner Click Here!



NEW PROCESS:  Pre-Season Sports Sign-up’s are now REQUIRED.

  • ANY athlete that intend to train and/or compete MUST now complete an online Sign-up Form for each sport per season. (FALL, WINTER AND SPRING SEASON) 
  • Sign-up Forms will available at least a 1- month prior to start date of each season sport for you to complete.  
  • Athletes, If you plan to participate in more than one sport within the same season, you will simply sign up for each of those sports individually.  
  • By signing up, we are able to improve the experience of the athletes and volunteers by being better prepared.


 Sign-ups are open from November 1 – December 1, 2022:


If you have questions or comments please feel free to email Michelle Cordell at (This includes current and new athletes)