Yale to Host Special Olympics Night

The Yale women's basketball huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
The Yale women's basketball huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Ceremony, Halftime Game to Take Place During Bulldogs' Game vs. Harvard


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University Women's Basketball Team will welcome Special Olympics Connecticut and the Unified Sports® athletes from local high schools to the John J. Lee Amphitheater for an awards ceremony and special halftime game when the Bulldogs host rival Harvard on Friday, February 1, at 7 p.m.

Yale Women's Basketball and Special Olympics Connecticut will honor three individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Special Olympics Connecticut during an awards ceremony at halftime of Friday's game.

"We are so honored to have Special Olympics Connecticut be a featured part of our game against Harvard," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "There will be some amazing members of Special Olympics Connecticut being honored in our gym and I hope everyone in attendance gives them a rousing, standing ovation. I am especially excited to welcome two Unified teams onto our court to compete during halftime. We believe this will be a great night for everyone and hopefully the beginning of a long tradition of teamwork between Yale Women's Basketball and the athletes, coaches, and fans of Special Olympics."

The ceremony will recognize athlete Alix Violano, of Hamden, and volunteers Nancy Hemingway, of Manchester, and the late Sue Armitage, formerly of Hamden.

Violano has participated in Special Olympics for over 10 years and trains and competes in sports including Unified basketball, croquet and swimming. She has won many medals and has represented Connecticut at the 2011 Special Olympics National Games in Lincoln, Neb.

Hemingway has been instrumental in helping to organize and run competitions and major events including Summer Games and enthusiastically recruits others to volunteer for Special Olympics.

Armitage served as the coordinator of the Hamden-New Haven Special Olympics local program for 10 years. In this role, she served 135 athletes, providing them with opportunities to train and compete in seven sports.

Following the ceremony, Special Olympics athletes will take the court during halftime to play an abbreviated basketball game. The athletes, from Wilby High School in Waterbury and Hillhouse High School in New Haven, participate in the Special Olympics' Unified Sports® program at their schools.

Unified Sports® brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together to play sports, gain physical fitness and establish meaningful friendships. In addition, Unified Sports® inspires social change — acceptance, understanding and respect for people of all abilities, both on and off the playing field.

Tickets for the game are available for purchase by phone (203) 432-1400 or by email at athletic.tickets@yale.edu. The Yale-Harvard game will be held inside John J. Lee Amphitheater at Payne Whitney Gymnasium beginning at 7 p.m.

The 2012-13 season marks the 40th season of women's basketball at Yale University. In 1972-73, women's basketball appeared on the Yale scene as a club sport and became a varsity sport the following year. The Bulldogs have won 443 games since their debut. A total of nine men and women have coached women's basketball at Yale, and there have been 35 women who have been named captain in those 40 seasons. Throughout the season, Yale will be celebrating the program's historic achievement.


More about Unified Sports®

Unified Sports® is currently offered in over 170 schools across the state through Special Olympics' partnership with the Connecticut Association of Schools and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CAS/CIAC). The Unified Sports® experience teaches good sportsmanship and good citizenship to elementary-, middle- and high-school students.  Additionally, Unified Sports® is offered as a community-based Program for participants of all ages, where it employs sports to ensure those with disabilities have the same opportunities afforded to all other members of society.


Year-round Sponsors of the Special Olympics Connecticut-CAS/CIAC Unified Sports® Program include Team ESPN, Bob's Stores, Campus Customs, Hoffman Auto Group and ConnectiCare.


About Special Olympics Connecticut

Special Olympics Connecticut provides year-round sports training and competitions for nearly 15,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities and Unified Partners (their teammates without disabilities). Through a myriad of initiatives throughout the state and the world, Special Olympics is a movement that's transforming lives by inspiring inclusion, understanding and respect for people of all abilities, in all aspects of life. (www.soct.org)


Partner Sponsors

Adams Hometown Markets/IGA Hometown Supermarkets, Connecticut Light & Power/Yankee Gas/ Western Massachusetts Electric (Northeast Utilities Companies), Law Enforcement Torch Run, NBC Connecticut, TD Bank, and United Technologies. Year-Round Suppliers: Adams Hometown Markets/IGA Hometown Supermarkets, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New England, Crystal Rock Water and Coffee Company, Graebel Van Lines, Guida's Milk and Ice Cream, Marcus Communications, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Community Service and Worx Branding & Advertising. To find out more, visit soct.org, call 203-230-1201 or email specialolympicsct@soct.org.


Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity