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PlayVS Partnership

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.

How it Works

A Unified esports option has been integrated into PlayVS. Unified teams will register, enroll and participate using the existing processes in place. The Unified league is offered to Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools at no additional cost.

All teams must be high school-based, and 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. For the Fall season, schools will have the ability to compete in 2 titles, Rocket League and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Rocket League teams are composed of 2 Special Olympics athletes and 1 Unified partner. 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.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe teams are composed of 2 Special Olympics athletes and 2 Unified partners. Mario Kart 8 is rated E for everyone and is played only on Nintendo Switch consoles. This game title is available to purchase on Nintendo’s online store and at various big retailers. Schools can have multiple Unified teams participate. The Fall 2022 season will serve as a pilot test Unified league for Mario Kart.

The Special Olympics Unified League is available for Unified Champion Schools in the following states: CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, IL, IN, LA, MI, MO, MT, NY, NE NM, OK, OH, TX, UT, VA, WA.

Other states to be added in the future!


Interest Form

PlayVS offers two participation options for Unified teams:

  1. 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 2 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.

  1. 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):

Form Link

Regardless of how a team participates, all coaches will have access to PlayVS training and tech support!

Fall 2022 Season - Key Info

Mario Kart 8

  • 1 League Option:

    • Match Day: Wednesday

    • Match Time: 4pm EST National League

Rocket League

  • 2 League Options: East and West

    • Match Day: Thursday

    • Match Times: 4pm EST East League, 4pm MST West League

    • Each school determines which league time they prefer during enrollment

Coach Training Webinars

Schedule

  • Registration & enrollment: Opens June 30 and closes September 16

  • Preseason: 09/05/2022 (2 weeks)

  • Prep Week: 9/19/2022

  • Regular Season: 09/26/22 (8 weeks)

  • Playoffs

    • ALL teams enrolled and active at the end of the regular season will receive an invite to the playoffs. Standings from the regular season will determine which division a team falls into and it’s seeding in that division.

    • Double Header Top 8 & Top 4 11/30/22 (Mario Kart), 12/1/22 (Rocket League)

  • Fall Championships: 12/7/22 Mario Kart, 12/8/22 Rocket League

Equipment Requirements

Mario Kart - Teams of 4 (2 Special Olympics athletes + 2 Unified partners)

Minimum (Total of 2x Nintendo Switches)

  • 1x Nintendo Switch System & Monitor/Television per 2 players

  • 1x Nintendo Switch compatible controller per player

  • 1x Pair of Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or any Nintendo Switch compatible controller with no turbo mode availability per player

  • 1x Active Nintendo Switch Online membership per Nintendo Switch system

  • 1x Mario Kart™ 8 Deluxe Game per Nintendo Switch system

Suggested (Total of 4x Nintendo Switches)

  • 1x Nintendo Switch System & Monitor/Television per player

  • 1x Nintendo Switch compatible controller per player

  • 1x Pair of Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or any Nintendo Switch compatible controller with no turbo mode availability per player

  • 1x USB to Ethernet Adapter per Nintendo Switch system

  • 1x Active Nintendo Switch Online membership per Nintendo Switch system (

  • 1x Mario Kart™ 8 Deluxe Game per Nintendo Switch system

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.

Rocket League - Teams of 3 (2 Special Olympics athletes + 1 Unified partner)

Minimum (Total of 2x Consoles or 2 PCs)

  • 1x console (Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4) or PC & Monitor/Television per 2 players

  • 1x compatible controller (console or PC) or 1 keyboard & mouse per player (PC)

  • 1x Online Membership IF on console (Free versions)

    • Xbox Live Silver

    • Nintendo Online,

    • Playstation Online

    • Epic Account

  • 1x Rocket League Game per console or PC (Free download)

Suggested (Total of 3x Consoles or 3 PCs)

  • 1x console (Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4) or PC & Monitor/Television per player

  • 1x compatible controller (console or PC) or 1 keyboard & mouse per player (PC)

  • 1x Online Membership (Free versions)

    • Xbox Live

    • Nintendo Online,

    • Playstation Online

    • Epic Account (PC)

  • 1x Rocket League Game per console or PC (Free download)

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.

Team Naming

During the enrollment process, the coach will need to create team names for each team they enroll. 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!

Expectations

PlayVS will provide:

  • 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

Coach responsibilities:

  • Attend training sessions conducted by PlayVS

  • Register the school/team on PlayVS by the season’s enrollment deadline

  • Recruit at least one team for Rocket League or Mario Kart

  • Commitment to a full season of weekly matches & practices (if participating in league option, 10-12 weeks, 2-4 hours a week)

  • Ensuring all teammates are equipped with the required technology per esport.

    • Work with school IT and/or other school esports coaches

  • Support students with getting registered on PlayVS and organizing them into teams

  • Communication with other coaches on match day and for rescheduling

  • Support players with match-day readiness and logistics

  • Provide adult oversight during all practices/matches and set positive team culture

  • NOTE: previous esports coaching experience is helpful, but not required!

Rules & Sportsmanship

  • Rule and requirements

    • Unified will follow the Rocket League Game Day Protocol and Rocket League Rulebook.

    • 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.

  • Mario Kart 8 Rules and requirements

    • Unified will follow theMario Kart Game Day Protocol andMario Kart Rulebook.

    • The in-game ratio of teammates is:

      • 2 Special Olympics athletes (students with an intellectual or developmental disability) and 2 Unified partners (student without an intellectual or developmental disability)

      • If a team cannot field all 4 players with this ratio, please reschedule, or talk with the opposing coach to drop the match to 4v3 and play with 2 athlete/1 partner.

  • 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.

Additional Resources

PlayVS

Mario Kart

Rocket League

League Info Links

General info landing page: https://www.playvs.com/so-unified

Contact Info

Aaron Kelley, PlayVS - aaron.kelley@playvs.com

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