BABSON PARK, Mass.—The Babson College Department of Athletics and Recreation partnered with Special Olympics of Massachusetts for a two-day community basketball event on February 11 and 18 inside Staake Gymnasium, as student-athletes, coaches and staff volunteered as announcers, fans, referees, scorekeepers and timekeepers.
The teams that attended were Special Olympics unified juniors (ages 8-15) and traditional seniors (ages 13-21). Unified teams consist of athletes with and without cognitive disabilities playing together, while traditional teams are made up of athletes with cognitive disabilities.
"We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to partner with Special Olympics," said Babson Director of Athletics and Athletic Advancement Mike Lynch. "Our hope this year was to have a department-wide community service initiative that involved our student-athletes, coaches and staff. What a powerful two days we experienced, as unity, compassion and teamwork were on full display. We look forward to continuing on with Special Olympics for years to come."
In addition to games being played simultaneously on adjacent courts, there was a 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 renowned Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course, Babson students chose Special Olympics of Massachusetts as one of the organizations to which they donated their time and companies' profits.
"As Special Olympics moves into 2018 celebrating our 50th anniversary, it is partners like Babson that provide our athletes with inclusive opportunities to compete and train in sports," said Special Olympics of Massachusetts Director of Sports & Fitness Jon Scully. "The continued commitment of Babson and their student-athletes have laid the foundation for inclusion and acceptance for the next 50 years. We are excited for the continued partnership with the college and the opportunities that lie ahead to grow programming on campus to involve more athletes and student leaders from Babson."
Over the years, Scully has worked with Babson Associate Director of Community Service Josh Stevenson. This month, the Special Olympics of Massachusetts contact was competition coordinator Kristen Giombetti, who worked alongside Babson Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) advisor Nellie Pineault 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, 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.