Huskies’ SAAC Unified Sports Program Begins Third Year

Huskies’ SAAC Unified Sports Program Begins Third Year

 

GORHAM, Maine – Since the 1960s, University of Southern Maine's Department of Athletics has had a rewarding and fulfilling partnership with Special Olympics, and its Maine Special Olympians.  And for the last three years, USM's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has made the Huskies' relationship with its friends at Maine Special Olympics one of its priorities through developing, strengthening and growing its Unified Sports Program. 

With the leadership of former SAAC Vice President Lauren Lessard '17, a past intern with Maine Special Olympics, USM SAAC seized an opportunity to forge a stronger connection through the creation and establishment of its Huskies' Unified Sports Program during the 2016-17 academic year, and since then the program has flourished.  

"Speaking for myself and on behalf of the student-athletes and SAAC members, our work within our Unified Sports Program is some of the most rewarding and fun ways to interact with our community members," said SAAC President, and senior women's basketball player Kimberly Howrigan. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to help establish and grow this program and see the positive impact it has made not only in the lives of our Maine Special Olympians but in the outlook of myself and student-athlete peers." 

Beginning its third year, Huskies' Unified Sports Program, under the direction of SAAC Advisor, women's basketball head coach and NCAA Life Skills Instructor Samantha Allen, will begin its 2018-2019 programming on Sunday, October 21 with a Pizza and Patriots social, giving USM student-athletes and the Special Olympic athletes a chance to interact in an informal and relaxed environment. These social events will be in addition to the hour-long skill sessions in which USM student-athletes volunteer to coach and instruct sport-specific skills and then engage in play. 

"We are excited to work with Special Olympics again this year, especially as they celebrate their 50th Anniversary," said Allen.  "Our partnership has formed into lasting bonds between USM student-athletes and local Special Olympians, and this fall we are mixing in a few more social and community-service oriented events to complement and enhance our skills and drills competitions on Sundays." 

Along with sharing an interest in a New England Patriots win (hopefully) and pizza, USM SAAC is also inviting interested Special Olympians to partake in the annual Community Husky Halloween Party (Sunday, October 28), and a Cookie Decorating/Semester Wrap-Up Party (Sunday, December 16).  One of the highlights of the eight-week program during the first semester is the Huskies' Annual Spread the Word to End the Word initiative hosted during a men's and women's basketball doubleheader at Hill Gym.  This year's event will be held on Sunday, November 25 when the Huskies take on in-state rival St. Joseph's College (Maine) as part of the annual Costello Cup Competition.  

The "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign is a national program with the intent of ending the derogatory use of the word retarded in everyday conversation. Through advocacy and awareness, the goal of the campaign is to educate people on the harmful effects of the word "retarded" and to encourage people to pledge to stop using it. Teams from both schools, and family, friends and fans, will be asked to take a pledge to end the misuse of the word retarded, and to promote a more inclusive and diverse campus environment.  At halftime of each of the games, both the men's and women's basketball teams, and members of SAAC, will host exhibition scrimmages featuring participants in the Huskies' Unified Sports Program. 

"After a successful first two years with our Unified Sports Program, we have seen a steady growth in student-athlete participation and excitement from our Special Olympians," said Allen.  "Discovering commonalities through athletic competition, our student-athletes have learned that they have far more in common than differences with this population, and that at the end of the day everyone wants to maximize their abilities and opportunities, and to be treated respectfully."  

2018-2019 USM Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Unified Sports Events (First Semester)

Sunday, October 21

Patriots & Pizza Party Social

Sunday, October 28

Husky Community Halloween Party (partner with USM student-athletes)

Sunday, November 11

Basketball in Hill Gym

Sunday, November 18

Volleyball in Hill Gym

Sunday, November 25

Spread the Word to End the Word event; Unified games at Halftime

Sunday, December 2

Soccer In Hill Gym

Sunday, December 9

Hockey in Hill Gym

Sunday, December 16

Cookie Decorating Wrap Up Party

 

 

 

WHAT IS USM SAAC?

The University of Southern Maine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is a student-led group comprised of selected student-athletes representing each of our 22 intercollegiate teams. As members of SAAC, these representatives actively participate in the organization, administration, implementation and evaluation of the collegiate athletic program at USM. 

The goals of SAAC focus on improving the quality of the athletic experience for all participants, involving student-athletes in educational programming and leadership opportunities, and implementing outreach programs that support and nurture the growth and development of the surrounding communities.

Each year, USM SAAC sponsors several community-related activities throughout the school year ranging from volunteerism (such as SAAC's volunteered time at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital and Preble Street Food Pantry), to its Unified Sports Program partnership with Maine Special Olympics, and fun-filled community activities (Skate with the Huskies, and the award-winning Husky Community Halloween Party). 

 

2018-2019 USM Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Officers

President:

Kim Howrigan, Junior, Women's Basketball

Vice President: 

Katie Howe, Sophomore, Women's Basketball

Secretary:

Sissy Smith, Junior, Women's Tennis

Public Relations:

Johnny Kyte, Junior, Men's Ice Hockey

 

 

Civic Engagement Team

Miriam Wood, Junior, Women's Lacrosse

Elise Laslavic, Junior, Women's Lacrosse

Sarah Michaud, Junior, Women's Soccer

Zach Hoyle, Sophomore, Men's Track & Field

 

 

 

Awards and Honors

2000-2001

USM Outstanding Student Organization Award, Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Award of Merit 

2002-2003

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Award of Merit 

2003

USM Outstanding Student Organization Award 

2003-2004

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Award of Merit 

2004-2005

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Award of Merit 

2005-2006

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Award of Merit 

2006-2007

USM Outstanding Student Organization Award, Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Award of Merit 

2008

USM Outstanding Student Organization Award, USM Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award 

2009

USM Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award 

2010-2011

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Honorable Mention (Array of Projects Category) 

2012-2013

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Honorable Mention (On-going Project Category) 

2013-2014

Josten's NADIIIAA Community Service Honorable Mention (On-going Project Category) 

2015

USM Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award

2016

USM Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award

2017

USM Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award

2018

USM Event of the Year Award 

2018

Josten's NADIIIA Community Service Honorable Mention (One-Time Project Category). 

–cac–