Special Olympics: A Chance for Service

From Tri-County Regional Center – an agency to service people with disabilities.


For those who enjoy sports and friendly competition, there is some exciting news coming for folks in the Santa Ynez Valley. Special Olympics Southern California will begin offering programming in Santa Ynez and Buellton in the spring of 2018. This is a partnership and collaboration between Special Olympics, the City of Buellton and the City of Solvang Parks and Recreation Department.

Special Olympics Southern California offers activities to individuals with intellectual disabilities in sports such as flag football, bocce ball, swimming, soccer, volleyball, and golf.  The sports rotate seasonally with tournaments held several times a year.  There are plans to include cheerleading as well as a wellness program that focuses on healthy eating and exercise habits.

Basketball is one of the spring sports. Once the practices have concluded in the Santa Ynez Valley, the teams will go to the big Spring Tournament usually held at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Thunderdome. Last year’s spring basketball tournament at UCSB included over 400 athletes from Southern California.

All Special Olympic programs are free of charge to participants and a great way to get some exercise and meet new friends. The players and teams may go on to compete County-wide, State-wide or even internationally at the World Games. Special Olympics pays for the athletes’ travel expenses. The Santa Barbara region of Special Olympics currently serves over 1200 children and adults. The program is open to all people with intellectual disabilities from age 8 years and up. Most of the players are adults, but there is no upper age limit. The oldest Santa Barbara participant is 72. There are over 500 volunteers assisting with coaching and fundraising events throughout the year.

Special Olympics has recruited a head coach, David Ibsen, for the Santa Ynez Valley basketball team. There are opportunities for assistant coaches and volunteers are needed.

If you are interested in signing up to play basketball, visit the Special Olympics Santa Barbara website at www.sosc.org/sb for more information. If you would like to volunteer to become a coach, contact Tim Ballaret at 805-884-1516 x 104 or tballaret@sosc.org. 

If you are interested in volunteering to cheer this new team on during practice or games, contact Jerrie Domingos at 805-688-5041