Department of Athletics

Huskies’ SAAC Unified Sports Program Begins Third Year

October 21: USM SAAC Unified Sports Kicks Off with Patriots & Pizza Social With Southern Maine Student-Athletes and Maine Special Olympians 

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."   READ MORE