USM SAAC, Huskies’ Basketball Teams to Host “Spread the Word to End the Word” Event

USM SAAC, Huskies’ Basketball Teams to Host “Spread the Word to End the Word” Event

GORHAM, Maine – For the third consecutive year, the University of Southern Maine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the men's and women's basketball teams will host a "Spread the Word to End the Word" Awareness campaign.  This year the campaign will be hosted during the Huskies' non-conference basketball doubleheader with local rival, the St. Joseph's College (Maine) Monks, on Sunday, November 25 (5:30 & 7:30 p.m.) at Hill Gymnasium. 

The "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign is a national program whose mission is to end 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 hurtful effects of the word "retarded" and to encourage people to pledge to stop using it.  Led by USM SAAC officers, USM student-athletes over the past two seasons have committed to establishing a campus culture of inclusivity and diversity through thoughtful language practices. With the 2018 Spread the Word to End the Word event, Husky student-athletes invite their peers, fans, friends and family as well as members of the St. Joseph's College community to recommit to the program's endeavor. 

As part of the event, the USM men's and women's basketball teams will be hosting halftime exhibition scrimmages featuring participants in SAAC's Unified Sports Program and Maine Special Olympic Athletes. During halftime of the men's basketball games, players from the Southern Maine women's basketball team will participate alongside of Maine Special Olympians.

Although officially adopted as a partner by the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in the summer of 2011, the University of Southern Maine Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the USM Department of Athletics has had a long-standing relationship with Special Olympics, and its Maine Special Olympians. 

USM Athletics under the director of then Athletic Director Dr. Richard A. Costello began working with Maine Special Olympics in the late 1960s when the founder and director of Maine Special Olympics, Micky Boutilier opened up his offices in downtown Gorham, Maine.  Since that time, USM Athletics, its student-athletes and Maine Special Olympics have enjoyed a successful partnership. USM Athletics has hosted, and its student-athletes have volunteered at, the Southern Maine Special Olympics Basketball Tournament and Skills Competition since the 1970s when the event was hosted inside of Hill Gymnasium long before the creation of the Costello Sports Complex Fieldhouse.  

Athletics' partnership with Maine Special Olympics is one that USM's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee had made a priority to strengthen during the 2016-2017 academic year, establishing its Unified Sports Program.  Now in its third year, USM's Unified Sports Program, under the direction of SAAC Advisor, women's basketball head coach and NCAA LifeSkills Instructor Samantha Allen, meets weekly at the Costello Sports Complex on Sunday afternoons.  During this 90-minute meeting time, USM student-athletes from all sports engage with Maine Special Olympians to participate in various activities.  Each weekly meeting consists of 30 minutes of a skill session followed by an hour of playing games with guided instruction.  Sports range from basketball, soccer, volleyball, track & field, and more. Following the Special Olympics model of social inclusion through sport, USM's Unified Sports Program has grown in numbers over the past two years.  USM SAAC kicked off its 2018-2019 season with a Football and Pizza Party Social Hour on October 21.  SAAC leaders added relaxed social activities to encourage further relationship building between student-athletes and Special Olympians. At the conclusion of the first semester, USM SAAC is planning on hosting a Cookie Decorating Party before heading off to break and restarting the program in the spring semester. 

"The continued growth of our Unified Sports Program has been a great experience for our student-athletes and Maine Special Olympic Athletes," said Allen.  "The student-athletes who choose to participate in the program have not only developed bonds with our program participants but have grown in their ability to find commonality, and foster a diverse and inclusive environment, with populations that outwardly seem different to their own.  The Spread the Word to End the Word initiative is a chance to not only advocate for social inclusion to a broader audience, but showcase the competitive spirit of all athletes."  


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 children in 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).