About Special Olympics

Help athletes prepare for various competitions, ranging from bowling to track and field!

  • Contacts: Sara Shallenberger ’25
  • Location: Northfield
  • Join Time: Anytime
  • Commitment: Weekly


Special Olympics offers many volunteer opportunities throughout the year, ranging from one-time events to weekly commitments.  Volunteers help with the Northfield Special Olympics team practices in bowling, basketball, and track & field. Volunteers who want a higher level of involvement can become certified coaches. Join the Special Olympics email list!



Special Olympics bowling takes place from September through November.  The Northfield team practices on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. at Jesse James Lanes.  The Area 10 tournament is in October, and the state tournament is the second weekend in November.  Volunteers help keep athletes organized at practices and can pair up with one of the Special Olympics athletes for team competition in Unified Bowling.


The basketball season is January through April.  Practices are held at 2 pm on Sundays in Cowling.  Volunteers work with the athletes in 3-on-3 half-court games and individual skills competition and can also work at the area and state tournaments in March and April, respectively.  College students usually serve as head coaches for the Northfield team.

Track & Field

The track season goes from April through June.  The Northfield team practices two evenings a week at St. Olaf College or Northfield Middle School.  Volunteers are needed for measuring, timing, and organization at practices.  The Area 10 meet is the third Saturday in May at Carleton, and volunteers can work in a variety of capacities including officiating, event assistants, and awards ceremonies.  The Minnesota state meet is the third weekend in June.

Volunteer experiences

“(The Special Olympics athletes) enjoyed just being there and the thrill of the moment.  This is something that athletes in general can learn from.” — Molly Christian, ’07

“You cannot help but go home feeling absolutely marvelous after having seen so many smiles and faces full of joy.” — Lori Halvorson, ’07

Special Olympics Minnesota

Over 14,000 people volunteer with Special Olympics Minnesota per year.

Find out more at the Special Olympics Minnesota website.

Caught in the ACT, The Carletonian, Spring 2008

Carleton hosts successful day-long Special Olympics last Saturday

May 23, 2008

On Saturday, May 17, Carleton hosted the annual Area 10 Special Olympics track and field meet, the qualifying event for the State Games in June. Adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities from nine Special Olympics delegations in southeastern Minnesota came together for the all-day event.

One of Carleton’s Special Olympics program directors, Shannon Carcelli ’08, said that “Special Olympics is an entire institution completely devoted to making people happy. As soon as the events start, people all around are excited and celebrating and appreciating what they have earned and what they have been given, and the joy is contagious.”

Athletes participated in a number of events throughout the day, including short and long-distance running, long jump, discus, and softball throw. In preparation for the event, athletes practiced two times per week with volunteers from Carleton, St. Olaf, and the Northfield community. Volunteers from the Northfield Target store and the Cannon Valley Rotaract, as well as from other delegations, joined in to organize, cheer, and assist with recording scores. Ribbons went to all competitors for their hard work and achievements made that day.

This year, Area 10 participants hailed from the Faribault, Filmore County, Freeborn County/ARC Sports, Goodhue Public Schools, Mower County, Owatonna, Red Wing Public Schools, Rochester, and Northfield. This regional competition will be followed by a statewide competition in June, which will include all twelve areas of Special Olympics Minnesota.