The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI intramurals and Special Olympics Iowa team up to start new flag football league

Ben Smith
Two teams face off during a Special Olympics qualified flag football event at the Hawkeye Recreation Facility fields on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.

UI intramural teams up with Special Olympics Iowa to start a Flag Football League.

By Andy Mitchell
[email protected]

On Wednesday evening, Aug. 20, University of Iowa intramural sports collaborated with Special Olympics Iowa to kick off the first night of the Unified Iowa Flag Football League.

For the UI, this event was the first of its kind.

The night featured four teams of five Special Olympics athletes, paired up with five partners to compete in a game of flag football. Each of the four teams kept their games close.

One game came down to the last minute, while the other went into overtime.

Coach Rob Wagner was pleased with the evening’s outcome. “This is why we watch,” he said.

Wagner, having coached Special Olympics athletes for years, was Unified Iowa’s pick to coach the flag-football teams. He noted the athletes’ excitement before the game.

“All this is Iowa,”
Wagner said. “They get to be Hawkeyes for six weeks. Sometimes they’d ask me, ‘When can we meet coach?’ And they’d be talking about Kirk Ferentz.”

Wagner said it was more than just about a competition for the Special Olympics athletes. The night was also about socializing with not only each other but with their Hawkeye counterparts. He wanted to see the league grow.

The evening was filled with friendly competition. The teams high-fived and cheered each other on when a big play happened, and Special Olympics athletes and Hawkeyes alike laughed with each other.

Parents watched their athletes from the picnic tables, showing their excitement.

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William Field and Jaison Marks, a Special Olympics athlete and his Hawkeye partner, said they had good
experiences when the night was over.

“This was our first night with each other, but I could tell we were already communicating well,” Marks said, referring to the Special Olympics athletes and partners. “It went really well.”

“They’re fun to work with and good to get along with,” Field said.

Marks was drawn to Unified Flag Football because it was similar to a program he participated in in high school.

This was the first time Field played flag football. He had gotten his start in the Special Olympics playing softball, but as a football fan, he wanted to give flag football a try.

Tommy Schorer, associate director of Sport Programs for UI Recreational Services said they could take notes from schools such as Central Michigan, and UI intramurals wanted to take a first step into uncharted territory.

“We want to build a
model for other schools to follow,” he said. “We’re hoping to do something like a Big Four tournament with Iowa State, Drake, and Northern Iowa.”

He said that they wouldn’t stop at just flag football, and said UI intramurals wants to implement the model of Unified Flag Football and try it with other sports, such as basketball and volleyball.

Schorer also wanted to thank the Hawkeye partners for stepping up; he said they helped make the league

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