NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 12, 2022) – Nashville Soccer Club, in partnership with Special Olympics Tennessee, today announced the formation of its first-ever Special Olympics Unified Team. Leveraging the power of sport, MLS WORKS, ESPN and Special Olympics have teamed up to promote an environment of social inclusion, which is aligned with the League’s Soccer For All platform. Cornerstone to the collaboration is the Special Olympics Unified Sports® Soccer Exchange Program, uniting individuals with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and individuals without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) as members of one team.
This week Nashville SC and Special Olympics Tennessee held an official Signing Day event at GEODIS Park featuring club executives and players Joe Willis, Taylor Washington and Eric Miller. On behalf of Nashville SC, General Manager Mike Jacobs presented Special Olympics Tennessee with a $ 10,000 check, and immediately following the Signing Day event, the club’s Unified Team members took to the pitch for the team’s first official practice.
Two members of the Nashville SC Unified Team will travel to Minneapolis to participate in the Special Olympics Unified Sports® All-Star Game. One Special Olympics athlete and one Unified partner will be selected to represent Nashville SC August 8 – 10 during MLS All-Star Week. The experience culminates in a competitive East versus West, 11 versus 11, Special Olympics Unified Sports® Soccer Game.
The Nashville SC Special Olympics Unified Team’s official trainings will be held in June and facilitated by Special Olympics Tennessee. The Blue versus Gold Unified Team match will take place on July 17 when the Boys in Gold host LAFC at GEODIS Park. The MLS Unified All-Star Game is scheduled for the last day of MLS All-Star Week on August 10.
You can learn more about the Nashville SC Special Olympics Unified Team as well as the Special Olympics Unified Sports® Soccer Exchange Program by clicking here.
Nashville SC Head of Community Brandon Hill: “The Special Olympics Unified Program and our partnership with Special Olympics and Major League Soccer is an amazing program. It’s all about promoting a spirit of inclusion and diversity, one of our core pillars as a club, and it’s one of the most important programs across MLS. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Special Olympics Tennessee in launching our first ever Special Olympics Unified Team. “
Special Olympics Tennessee CEO Adam Germek: “This is an historic day for our organization and an incredible opportunity for these athletes. It’s a dream come true, and from our perspective, we’re so thankful for Nashville SC and their promotion of inclusion in our community and for embracing our athletes and individuals with intellectual disabilities. We have felt the love from day one, and Nashville SC has been part of our family in the same way we feel a part of their family. “
Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs: “This is such a special day for Nashville Soccer Club. The idea of supporting a venture like Special Olympics fits the core tenants of our club and who we are. We have made history many times just in the last month, and today we do it again for Nashville SC and our community. It is so exciting to be able to add future Boys and Girls in Gold to our team through the Special Olympics Unified Team. ”
Nashville SC Goalkeeper Joe Willis: “As a team, we are so excited to welcome these new Special Olympics Unified Team athletes to the Nashville SC family. Being part of NSC’s inaugural MLS season, it is amazing to now watch the club launch our inaugural Unified Team in our third year, and I can’t wait to see how this team grows. “
NASHVILLE SC SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEAM:
Whites Creek High School