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FGCU Hosts Annual Unified Play Day of Basketball

Joseph Coppola

FGCU held its annual Unified Play Day of Basketball on Saturday, Oct. 21. The event took place at the Recreation & Wellness Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The man in charge of the block party was Zach McMahon. He is the Sport Programs Coordinator at the university’s Recreation & Wellness Center. Since McMahon was hired at FGCU, there has been at least one Unified Play Day per year.

He said they’re going to start making it a goal to do it twice a year, and with a different sport. McMahon hopes to offer either soccer or sand volleyball in the future.

“Every year we let the Special Olympics of Florida know that we want to do a Unified Play Day. They take the initiative to reach out to all of the athletes plus their families, and then we are happy to provide all of the facilities and the staff to make this event possible,” McMahon said.

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The students are the ones who make it possible to organize this event. He highlights a group that significantly impacts the FGCU community.

“We have a Student Officials Association that works together to make these events happen. We also have Unity Day, an anti-bullying campaign, which took place on Wednesday, Oct. 18. We go out there and table in the university Recreation and Wellness Center, and they will solicit students to sign a pledge to not bully others,” McMahon said.

Marisa Oldrati is a junior at FGCU. She is getting her degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Forensic Studies. This is her third year volunteering for this event. She started as a freshman and got involved with officiating and playing.

This year was her first year organizing the event. She was in charge of ordering the posters, T-shirts and making sure there were enough athletes and players for the event.

“It’s important to include everyone, because everyone has a passion and following your passion is what makes you happy. We give everyone a chance to be here and let them be themselves, especially out on the court. The athletes look forward to this event for months before it even happens,” Oldrati said.

With snacks, music and entertainment, McMahon said how much the athletes enjoy the event.

“They talk about how much fun they have, and they get to interact with members of the FGCU community, whether they’re students or staff and make new connections,” McMahon said. “One of the most rewarding things is when an athlete comes back year after year, and they notice a lot of us, they pick up right where they left off last year.”

She enjoys volunteering for the Unified Play Day over the years, and explains how rewarding it is having the event every year at FGCU.

“It’s a great way to get the community together and have a fun time. Seeing the athletes play, you see the smiles on their faces and it really just makes your day,” Oldrati said.

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