Special Olympics Florida is proud to announce that two athletes and a Unified partner will be part of the Special Olympics USA male Unified soccer team at the Special Olympics Unified Cup 2022, being held July 31 – August 6 in Detroit, Michigan.
Special Olympics teams from 25 countries have been selected to participate in the Unified Cup 2022 presented by Toyota and supported by Hometown Sponsor, Ally Financial.
We are incredibly proud of Florida Athletes (and twins) Ian and Tyler Tate, and Unified partner Evan Walker, who were selected to the USA male Unified soccer team.
Ian and Tyler Tate have been competing with the OCA Eagles since December 2019, but their talents aren’t limited to the soccer field. They’ve also participated in 3 on 3 traditional basketball – claiming the 2020 state title, softball skills, and traditional softball – where they’ve won gold at the state games. In June, they competed in Unified soccer at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games and brought home the gold!
Evan, a Unified partner, began playing with the OCA Eagles as a volunteer service project with his University of Central Florida club soccer teammates, and now thinks of his team as family. “The goal is for us all to come out here and for the Unified partners and the athletes to be completely seamless and not be able to tell the difference.”
Special Olympics USA will be represented by two composite Unified teams in Detroit, one all-male 11-a-side team and one all-female 7-a-side team. Athletes and Unified partners were selected to be part of Special Olympics USA after being nominated by their Special Olympics Program and local MLS Club and completing interviews and virtual tryouts.
Participants will represent the Special Olympics Unified Sports® Soccer Exchange Program, a collaboration since 2014 between Major League Soccer, ESPN and Special Olympics to promote an environment of social inclusion. The cornerstone of the collaboration, the Unified Exchange Program, consists of MLS Unified teams traveling for exhibition matches scheduled in conjunction with MLS first-team matches, reinforcing inclusivity and showcasing the talents and abilities of SO athletes and partners. Also, part of the program, taking place this summer as part of MLS All-Star Week in Minnesota is the Special Olympics Unified All-Star Unified Game.
Detroit will host more than 300 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities during a historic week that will celebrate the joy of sport and the power of inclusion through camaraderie, competition, and breaking down social barriers.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same team, demonstrating how playing and competing together breaks down barriers and ultimately creates communities of acceptance and inclusion.
The finals will be streamed live on ESPN3 from Keyworth Stadium – home of the Detroit City Football Club – to hundreds of millions of viewers across the globe by ESPN, the Global Broadcast Partner of Special Olympics and the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. A recap of the week will be broadcast by ESPN2 on Saturday, August 13 at 3p ET.
The Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 is made possible thanks to support from sponsors Toyota, ESPN, Ally Financial, Gallagher, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, The Coca-Cola Company, and The Real Estate One Charitable Foundation. For more information, visit unifiedcup.org.