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PlayVS & Special Olympics Partnership
This Spring ‘22, we will host our first inaugural Unified esports Rocket League season in official partnership with Special Olympics North America Unified Champion Schools! Our Unified league is offered to Special Olympics Champion Schools at no additional cost.
In September 2021, PlayVS launched a national partnership with Special Olympics North America. The partnership is focused on growing Special Olympics Unified esports, which combines students with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and students without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) on inclusive esports teams. Through the strategic and innovative collaboration, PlayVS will serve as the official operator for the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® national high school esports league in the US.
The Unified League is available for schools in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. We look to expand to even more states in the future!
How it Works
Beginning with the Spring 2022 season, a Unified esports option has been integrated into PlayVS. Unified teams will register, enroll and participate using the existing processes in place.
All teams must be high school-based, have an adult head coach with all participants being at least 13 years of age or older. Teams may participate at school or virtually from home.
Teams composed of 2 Special Olympics athletes and 1 Unified partner participate in the game of Rocket League. Rocket League is rated E for everyone and is available to play for free on a variety of gaming consoles and personal computers (PC). Schools can have multiple Unified teams participate. Additional game titles may be explored in the future.
PlayVS offers two participation options for Unified teams:
League Play: This option is available for schools who desire a semi-competitive experience through ongoing matches with other schools. 10-12 week seasons are offered in the Fall (September-December) and Spring (February-April) that consist of 3 weeks of optional pre-season, an 8-week required regular season and 1-2 weeks of playoffs. Teams are expected to attend weekly matches at the regular time scheduled by PlayVS. Unified teams enroll according to the general PlayVS registration schedule.
Scrimmage Play: This option is for schools looking to get started with a more developmental approach but cannot yet commit to a full season. These Unified teams will register with PlayVS, but will NOT officially enroll in the Unified league. Once registered, Coaches will have the opportunity to schedule scrimmage matches through the PlayVS platform with other Unified teams at their own agreed upon dates and times . This option is also known as “scrim-only”. Any Unified school that is interested in scrimmage opportunities must also submit this Google Form to express interest (schools who are participating in the full league, may also submit this form if they wish to have additional scrimmage options).
Regardless of how a team participates, all coaches will have access to PlayVS training and tech support! You can email them at email@example.com.
Rules & Sportsmanship
Rule and requirements
The in-game ratio of teammates is:
2 Special Olympics athletes (students with an intellectual or developmental disability) and 1 Unified partner (student without an intellectual or developmental disability)
If a team cannot field all 3 players with this ratio, please reschedule, or talk with the opposing coach to drop the match to 2v3 and play with 1 athlete/1 partner.
Note: There are no scoring restrictions or other modifications for Unified partners, however, coaches are expected to adhere to good sportsmanship and the Special Olympics philosophy of meaningful involvement.
Meaningful involvement & sportsmanship
All coaches shall work to achieve meaningful involvement for all students on both teams. The principle of meaningful involvement ensures that every player is given an opportunity to contribute to the success of his or her team through their unique skills and abilities.
To the greatest extent possible, all players on a team should be within a similar ability range.
To avoid player domination, varsity-level or other highly skilled Rocket League players are typically not a good fit to participate as a teammate in this league.
Please keep sportsmanship in mind and know that each team has very different experience levels with Unified esports.
Unified Esports coaches must follow the general PlayVS Coach Code of Conduct.
Important Dates & Times
Match Day: Wednesday
There are two (2) League Options, East and West.
Match Times: 4pm EST East League, 4pm MST West League
Each school determines which league time they prefer during enrollment.
Registration & enrollment opens December closes February 11.
Preseason: February 2 - February 16 (3 weeks, optional but highly recommended)
Regular Season: February 23 - April 20 (9 weeks, including 1 week off for spring break)
Playoffs: April 27-May 4 (2 weeks, based on team placement)
Find more details in theUnified Spring Schedule.
Coach Training Webinars
Event 1 - Intro to Esports and PlayVS
Audience: Any interested schools
January 12, 2022 4pm PST /7pm EST
Event 2 - Getting Ready for the Spring Season
Audience: Schools enrolled in Spring season.
February 15, 2022, 4pm PST / 7pm EST
During the enrollment process, the coach will need to create team names for each Rocket League trio. Please use the following naming convention: School name, mascot, Unified. For example the Central High School Bobcats would use this name:
Central High School Bobcats - Unified
If a school has more than one team, please add a number, letter or color after “Unified” to delineate, for example:
Central High School Bobcats - Unified Green
Central High School Bobcats - Unified Gold
Doing so is very important for us to be able to confirm your intention to participate in our Unified league!
Tech & Budget Considerations
PlayVS has waived all student and school participation fees for Unified esports teams. Additionally, the game of Rocket League is completely free to play and can be downloaded by anyone from Epic Games. Rocket League is considered “cross-platform” and can be played from PC (desktop or laptop), Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. To play online as a team, Rocket League requires each teammate to participate using a separate device (cannot have multiple people using one console at the same time). In most cases, existing school computers/consoles or privately-owned devices can be used to participate in this league. Access to standard high-speed internet is also important as well as working with the school/district IT department to ensure the proper restrictions are removed to allow for students to play online if they are competing at school.
PlayVS will provide teams with the following:
Direct support to Unified esports coaches with enrollment , team setup, technology troubleshooting and league support/guidance throughout the entire season.
Educational materials and webinars for coaches.
Weekly email for Unified coaches with league updates (during each season).
Weekly email for Special Olympics Program staff with league updates and the current list of enrolled schools for that season.
Scheduling of all matches and playoffs.
The publishing of league standings & results.
Broadcasting playoff finals.
Unified coaches are expected to support their teams in the following ways:
Attend training sessions conducted by PlayVS.
Register the school/team on PlayVS by the season’s enrollment deadline.
Recruit at least one team (2 Special Olympics athletes + 1 partner per team).
Commit to a full season of weekly matches & practices (if participating in league option, 10-12 weeks, 2-4 hours a week).
Work with school IT and/or other school esports coaches to ensure all teammates are equipped with the required technology.
For example, each teammate must play on a separate device for PlayVS leagues.
Help students register on PlayVS and organize them into teams.
Communicate with other coaches on match day, including any rescheduling.
Support players with match-day readiness and logistics.
Provide adult oversight during all practices/matches and set positive team culture.
Previous esports coaching experience is helpful, but not required!
PlayVS Special Olympics Unified Esports
PlayVS main contact info: Aaron Kelley, PlayVS - firstname.lastname@example.org
Printable Sign up Sheet (Doc)
Printable Sign up Sheet (PDF)
School flyer for Rocket League
Still, need help? Contact our support team via the orange support bubble on the PlayVS site or email them at email@example.com.
Good luck and have a fantastic first season!