Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to engage in sports training and competition. Special Olympics offers children and adults year-round training and competition in 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. The mission of Special Olympics is to give athletes continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing gifts, skills, and friendship.

Our coaching philosophy at Mini-Hops is to maintain a disciplined, respectful and challenging environment which encourages athletes to train to reach their personal best and of course have fun!

See the 2017-2018 Special Olympics Calendar here!

Who is eligible for Special Olympics?

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, an individual must be at least six years old to train and eight years old to compete and be identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: mental, and/or cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction.

What type of gymnastics training happens at Mini-Hops? Isn't gymnastics too hard for most people?

Gymnastics combines strength, flexibility and artistry. Mini-Hops features both Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics. Both are surprisingly accessible sports and the ability to participate in them is not heavily dependent on age, body type, or fitness level (which will increase with training). The Special Olympic routines are progressive in nature and are carefully designed to work on the most basic skills and build on that foundation. Our team has athletes ranging in age from 7 to 39, some who are physically as well as developmentally challenged. All are able to participate meaningfully and with a sense of accomplishment.

Female athletes in Artistic Gymnastics train and compete in four events: There are several levels at which athletes perform artistic routines, starting with the compulsory levels, 1 through 3, and moving up to the more difficult optional level 4.

Women's Events

Vaulting, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise and All Around (combination of all four event scores).

Rhythmic Gymnastics (Level I and up for females only):

Rope Hoop Ball Ribbon

Club All Around*

* MHG athletes do not participate in this event Male Artistic Gymnasts train and compete in six events; they also have levels 1 through 3 and the more difficult optional level 4.

Men's Events
  • Floor Exercise Pommel Horse Rings Vaulting Parallel Bars Horizontal Bar
  • All Around (combination of all six event scores)
  • We encourage athletes to learn their basic skills thoroughly and also to move up to the highest level they can achieve.
When do the athletes train?

We train from October to June on Saturday afternoons, beginning with Artistic Gymnastics for both male and female athletes at 12:45 to 2:15 and Rhythmic Gymnastics for female athletes at 2:15 – 2:45. We do take some weekends off and you will receive a specific schedule when you register.

Are there competitions?

Yes. There are two formal competitions a year, an Area meet usually held in late April or early May and the State Summer Games, held in June. To be eligible to compete in Summer Games, an athlete must be 8 years old, properly registered and have competed in the Area Meet. Male and female gymnasts may compete in all events offered (All Around) or may be specialists, competing in one, two, or more (but not all) events. Athletes are judged at these events and receive ribbons and medals based on their performance. We also do some exhibitions and clinics during the year.

How do we get started?

There is some paperwork to fill out for Mini-Hops and the Minnesota Special Olympics Organization; you can pick that up at Mini-Hops. (The Special Olympics forms can also be found at www.specialolympicsminnesota.org at Forms Central). There is no tuition for Special Olympics training. Competition uniforms are supplied by the program, but during training it is preferable if female athletes wear leotards and male athletes wear gymnastics shorts and t-shirts. If they do not have leotards, athletes may wear shorts and tee shirts that will not interfere with movement.

Can parents watch training sessions?

Mini-Hops is and has been a professional member of the United States Gymnastics Association sine 1976. USAG rules require that no observers be present in the gym for safety reasons, but we have an observation area where spectators can watch through windows. We do invite you to observe in the gym during competitions.

Who are the coaches?

Heather Swierzeck & Erika Jagiella are our Co-Head Coaches.

You will also meet our many other volunteer coaches, all of whom are certified by Special Olympics to work with the program.

For more information call Heather or Erika at Mini-Hops Gymnastics; 952-933-2452 or via email at heather.swierzeck@mini-hops.com