BABSON PARK, Mass.—For the third consecutive winter, the Babson College Department of Athletics and Recreation partnered with Special Olympics Massachusetts for community basketball games on January 26 and a regional basketball tournament on February 9 inside the brand new Babson Recreation and Athletics Complex.
Attending this year's games were Special Olympics unified masters (ages 22+) and traditional masters (ages 22+). Unified teams consist of athletes with and without cognitive disabilities playing together, while traditional teams are made up of athletes with cognitive disabilities.
Babson student-athletes, coaches and staff volunteered as announcers, fans, referees, scorekeepers and timekeepers, while Christine Verdolino of Babson Public Safety and members of the Wellesley Police Department volunteered and handed out medals following the games. In addition to action on all three courts inside BRAC, fans and athletes held the American flag at center court while field hockey junior Maddy Paro (Manchester, Conn.) sang the national anthem during the opening ceremonies.
Both days also featured photo opportunities, a hydration and snack station, a press conference area and an athlete village that included poster decorating, pop-a-shot hoops, dance competitions and other games.
"We are extremely appreciative of our relationship with Special Olympics," commented Pamela P. and Brian M. Barefoot Senior Director of Athletics and Athletics Advancement Mike Lynch. "The community games have provided a great experience for our student-athletes and staff as well as all of the Special Olympians. We hope to be able to continue this relationship for years to come."
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.
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.