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The UMass Lowell women’s soccer team teaches shooting drills at Love of the Game Sports’ Playing for Inclusion event. (Alex Salucco/Connector)
Love of the Game Sports hosted their second annual Playing for Inclusion event Sunday afternoon at the Campus Recreation Center.
With help from Disable the Label, Best Buddies and the UMass Lowell women’s soccer team, Love of the Game Sports held a soccer clinic for disabled and disadvantaged children and adolescents.
“The main purpose of this organization is to pay the benefits of sports forward and share it with a community that really needs it,” said Daniel Schmith, founder and president of Love of the Game Sports.
Love of the Game Sports was responsible for getting the UMass Lowell women’s soccer team to come out and run the activities. Junior midfielder Thalia Petsis took the lead.
“We started off with a warmup and then we played games we loved to play as kids,” said Petsis. “Then we did some passing drills, shooting drills and some relay drills as well.”
The participants and their parents expressed gratitude and appreciation for the women’s soccer team helping out.
“It is great cause they are from my hometown, Lowell,” said Jay Martinez, a participant in the event. “I appreciate the girls taking the time to do this and coming here.”
With events regarding the disabled and disadvantaged, parents are heavily involved and enjoy seeing their children being active and having fun. Garrett McCormack and Stella McCormack’s daughter, Jocelyn McCormack, regularly attends Love of the Game Sports’ events.
“The [women’s soccer] team has been really good today,” said Stella McCormack of Chelmsford. “They have been really positive and energetic and got [the kids] very excited,” she said.
“Every time we come through the area she gets very excited,” her husband Garrett McCormack said. “The kids look up to the student athletes.”
Petsis and her teammates agreed and said that her team had just as much fun as the participants.
“We often forget that we are mentors and people look up to us,” said Petsis. “For us to come out here and play with them and show them some techniques and teach them something new is very important,” she said.
Aside from the soccer clinic, there was a bevy of other activities as well such as face painting, pizza, a DJ and photo ops with UMass Lowell’s mascot, Rowdy the River Hawk, contributed in part by Best Buddies and Disable the Label.
“It is always fun to collaborate with the other organizations,” said Schmith. “There were many moving parts.”
Jeremy Daigneau, a senior at the university and vice president of Disable the Label, said his organization was glad to be a part of this event.
“Inclusion is in the name of the event,” Daigneau said. “That is a big theme that the university likes to share and really make well known.” I think having the [women’s] soccer team help out shows the kids that they can play this game just like anyone else.”
Nicole Hayek, a marketing assistant with Love of the Game Sports, agreed and said the idea was for everyone to forget about what is going on in their lives and just play. Schmith said he could not have been more pleased with the execution.
“We have expanded our team and we have been able to handle more,” Schmith said. “The amount of things that we have been able to squeeze together in this event has been major. It has been better than anything else we have done.”