Bozeman leads Special Olympics Montana’s esports program

BOZEMAN – With the rise of esports more than ever, it’s redefining what it means to be an athlete.

That’s why Bozeman High is leading the charge across Montana in giving Special Olympics athletes a passion for the game. an opportunity to compete.

“During the pandemic, Special Olympics had posted some things on Facebook that I saw that they were looking to start unified esports, so I immediately reached out and reached out to them to find out how we can get involved,” explained Bozeman program coordinator Joey Hancock. .

It was that call that led Bozeman High to become a pilot program for Special Olympics Montana, competing weekly this spring against teams across the country.

“Every week they would come and say ‘okay, now where’s the team we’re playing with this week? Where do they come from? “” Hancock laughed.

Since esports is a unified program, teams are made up of students with and without intellectual disabilities who compete in a game called Rocket League.

“It allowed us to explore all kinds of different possibilities when it came to different physical limitations,” explained Carl Poeschl, a professor at Bozeman High CTE. It’s really easier to adapt.

One example is programming video game controllers to meet the needs of athletes who might have hand impairments, something Ben Taylor was able to do for his older brother.

“He can’t use his left hand at all, so I have to find a way to make it so that only the right side of his controller can do all the actions that the full controller would do,” Taylor said. “It’s really impressive to see him do everything with one hand.

While one of the most favorite aspects of their weekly competition is the smack talk, the relationships that have continued to grow outside of the classroom. Is the real winner.

“I love all the stuff in the competition, but it’s really the piece that when you see what it does with all the stuff that brings it home and makes it – the impact is so much clearer then” , smiled Hancock. “It’s amazing what this is doing to promote inclusion in our schools.

At the end of the summer, Bozeman will participate in an exhibition at a coaching clinic for Special Olympics Montana in hopes that interest will continue to grow statewide.

About Georgia Duvall

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