BABSON PARK, Mass.—For the second consecutive year, the Babson College Department of Athletics and Recreation partnered with Special Olympics Massachusetts for a regional basketball tournament on January 27 and community basketball games on February 3 in Staake Gymnasium. Student-athletes, coaches and staff volunteered as announcers, fans, referees, scorekeepers and timekeepers.
The teams that attended were Special Olympics unified masters (ages 22+), traditional masters (ages 22+) and traditional seniors (ages 16-21). Unified teams consist of athletes with and without cognitive disabilities playing together, while traditional teams are made up of athletes with cognitive disabilities.
"Our department's partnership with Special Olympics Massachusetts is powerful," said Pamela P. and Brian M. Barefoot Athletics Director Mike Lynch. "Last year, we desired to have a department-wide community service initiative that involved our entire athletics population. We now have that with Special Olympics and will cherish this meaningful relationship for years to come."
In addition to games being played simultaneously on adjacent courts, there was an opening ceremony, athlete village, hydration/snack station, press conference area, team meeting room, and photo opportunities with Biz E. Beaver, the school's official mascot.
Babson's relationship with Special Olympics dates back many years, with students completing service-learning projects as part of their academic requirements. As part of the Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course, Babson students chose Special Olympics Massachusetts as one of the organizations in which they donated their time and companies' profits.
"Special Olympics Massachusetts values our longtime partnership with Babson," said Special Olympics Massachusetts Vice President of Sports Matt Ruxton. "As Special Olympics Massachusetts strives to build inclusive communities and more competition opportunities for our athletes, we are proud that Babson is a shining example of college partnership where the students embrace inclusion and the Special Olympics mission. We look forward to growing this great partnership with the Babson community."
Over the years, Special Olympics Massachusetts has worked with Babson Associate Director of Community Service Josh Stevenson. This month, Special Olympics Massachusetts Director of Community Partnerships Andrew MacLeay and Competition Coordinator Marc Tebbetts worked with Babson Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) advisor Shannon Torosian to organize the two-day event.
In addition to Babson's longtime partnership with Special Olympics, there's a unique connection with all of Division III. At the 2011 NCAA Convention, the Division III SAAC initiated a partnership with Special Olympics. The purpose of the partnership is to improve the lives of Special Olympics athletes through their involvement with Division III student-athletes and to foster a mutual learning experience between Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes; to provide a platform for recognition of Special Olympics athletes; and to raise awareness about Special Olympics and the programs and services provided.