USA Games Legacy

Seattle looks to add to rich and growing history of the Special Olympics USA Games

“This event is just right in our city’s wheelhouse in my opinion. Seattle will roll out the red carpet.” 

Those are the words of former Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren when he’s asked about the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games which will take place in Seattle next July. Holmgren is one of dozens of Seattle sports legends who will serve as Ambassadors for the games. He knows how Seattle fans react to big sports events and he’s anxious to see it happen next summer.

“Seattle has always shown tremendous generosity, not just financially but also emotionally,” he said. “This is going to be a great, great event.”

Holmgren’s fellow Ambassadors, all of whom know something about sports, success, and legacy, agree that Seattle will be ready to make the fourth mid-summer gathering of Special Olympics athletes the best one yet.

“I think Seattle will be an unprecedented experience,” said former Seattle Sounders goal keeper and USA Soccer Hall of Famer Kasey Keller. “I think we’re really going to put together something special for the athletes and their families.”

The USA had never conducted a multi-sport national Special Olympics competition until the 2006 USA Special Olympics Games were held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. The Games have been held every four years since (in 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and in 2014 in Princeton, New Jersey).

The 2006 Games featured 3,000 athletes and coaches competing in 12 sports. The 2010 Games were called the “largest sports event in Nebraska’s history” and the 18,000 fans who gathered at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for the 2014 Opening Ceremony were reminded by “Glee” actress Jane Lynch that Special Olympics athletes' greatness is “measured by more than just trophies, medals, and pins.”

The legacy the 2018 Games inherit is one of growth, spirit, and achievement. The Seattle games are the first to feature over 4,000 participants. They will compete in 14 events around the Puget Sound in venues on the campuses of the University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, as well as the King County Aquatic Center, Celebration Park in Federal Way, and several other locations.

One of the goals of the Seattle team putting on the games is to have big crowds at every venue to cheer on the athletes. Ambassador and Seattle Mariners legend Edgar Martinez thinks that will be a given.

“It’s important for the athletes and it’s important for our community,” Martinez said. “Seattle will really embrace the Games.”

The 2018 USA Games mission statement is “to use the power and joy of sports as a catalyst for driving social change, changing perceptions, and creating more inclusive communities.”

In addition, the Seattle Games will also establish a new high mark in the overall experience enjoyed by athletes, coaches and fans. Topping that mark will be the job of the host city of the 2022 Games.