College students and Special Olympics team up for Unified Flag F - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

College students and Special Olympics team up for Unified Flag Football League

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

A Unified Flag Football league between university students and Special Olympics athletes has started for the first time in the state.

University of Iowa Intramural Sports has teamed up with the Special Olympics to create the league, which plays on Wednesday nights at the Hawkeye Recreation Fields.The first games were held on Wednesday, with over 20 Special Olympic athletes.

"It's really engaging and building on friendships, especially friendships that often times really wouldn't be in existence, unfortunately," Bryan Coffey, Special Olympics of Iowa Unified Sports Director, said.

It's an opportunity to get Special Olympic athletes moving and exposed to new things.

"A lot of our athletes may have gone through school or may be in school right now, as well, and may have not had the opportunity to play sports on a team maybe because they've been"cut" from the team or for various reasons.  So, Special Olympics Iowa gives them an opportunity for these individuals to play and, this particular event, this is actually giving our athletes an opportunity to play sports at the university level," Coffey said. 

It's also something they hope the University of Iowa students will benefit from, too.

"We hope they learn some things dealing with people that may be different from them or have different skill sets or whatever else, and interacting with them and building relationships," Tommy Schorer, UI Recreational Services Sport Programs Associate Director, said.

Lily Joyaux and her three roommates were among the UI students who joined. They also are a part of Best Buddies, and got involved as a way to be more involved.

"I think this is so amazing and such a good opportunity, and it's so fun to see them get into the game and so excited," Joyaux said.

They hope to also bring Unified Flag Football to campuses at Iowa State, University of Northern Iowa, and Drake, with the goal of, one day, having a state championship. The University of Iowa is also looking to create Unified leagues in other intramural sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and soccer.

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