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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Beacons’ Special Day for the Special Olympics

Feb. 26 proved to be an extremely heartwarming day at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Clark Athletic Center with the hosting of the Second Annual Special Olympics Basketball Tournament. The UMass Boston Student-Athlete Advisory Committee had a large hand in bringing the event to campus.

Oderra Jones, who is usually the front-runner of the Special Olympics, coordinates the community service events for the athletic department. He reached out to the Special Olympics Organization and got teams from Brockton, Milton, Quincy, and Brookline to participate in the tournament.

Although Jones organized the event, it was senior and former volleyball player Briana Sousa, the president of SAAC in her second year, who took the reigns on this year’s program and was held with a lot of responsibility on making the tournament run smoothly.

Sousa worked with Tracey Hathaway, the compliance officer for the UMass Boston Athletics Department. Together, they gathered a total of 50 athletes from varying sports teams to come support the Special Olympic athletes.

The first year the Special Olympics Basketball tournament was held in the Clark Gymnasium, SAAC was involved. This year, she was extremely excited to actually be able to control a lot of the decisions and changes that were made to make it even better.

“Last year, SAAC participated along with all the other athletes, so this year we knew exactly what changes needed to be made to make it a better experience for not only the Special Olympic athletes but for the UMass Boston athletes to enjoy it just as much.”

Sousa remarked that this event is extremely important because the Special Olympic athletes get to meet the student athletes at UMass Boston. They get a whole day to showcase their own athletic talents in front of all the athletes they admire.

“The excitement and heart of the Special Olympic athletes when they were playing basketball shows the UMass Boston athletes not to take their own talents and ease in sports for granted.”

Being able to get so many athletes to come out to support the event on a Sunday was extremely gratifying. Sousa was even surprised at the turnout of student athletes that showed up. The coaches for each team highly recommended supporting the Special Olympics, but it is not mandatory to attend. Even the spring season athletes currently in season took their only day off out of the week to come support this memorable day.

“The turnout was great with the UMass [Boston] athletes; we had about the same number as Special Olympic athletes, if not more. One of the Special Olympic teams didn’t show up and without even having to ask, the UMass Boston athletes filled in and made a whole team to play against the others.”

Sousa also commented on how enlightening it was to see the pride on the Special Olympic athletes faces when they got to play against the UMass Boston athletes.

One major change Sousa was sure to implement into the program was donating unused clothing items to each team. Sousa looks forward to hosting the Special Olympics again next year as this day will continue to mark one for the books every year in the athletics department and bring a sense of community to the entire university.