March 16, 2012
This month members of the UCLA women's soccer and aquatics teams joined Head Athletic Performance Coach Mike Linn at Palms Middle School to take part in Team Prime Time's fully inclusive sports program, the Prime Time Games.
Taking their places at the front of the "Welcome Line," the Bruins ignited the crowd with their enthusiastic welcome of the "athletes" with special needs, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The Team Prime Time middle school "coaches" quickly elevated their "game" to match the Bruin energy.
The "coaches" and UCLA student-athletes worked seamlessly together on the basketball courts and soccer fields, giving the "athletes" the type of social and recreational experience that has made the Prime Time Games such an integral part of the special needs community. TPT Staff Member and Girls Basketball Director, Caroline Bandy, said, "I wish these women would visit every week. They are amazing role models for the middle school "coaches," all of whom perform so much better when the Bruins are there in support."
This is the third year UCLA athletics has been involved in the Prime Time Games. Coach Linn, the driving force behind this specific community service program states, "This unique program builds much needed self esteem and self confidence in two uniquely different population groups through sports. The lessons learned through coaching as well as through participation in sports are long lasting and should be availed for all to experience. We at UCLA are honored to be a part of such a rewarding program."
While this all took place in just one hour, it was easy to see that it made a difference. As special needs "athletes," middle school "coaches" and UCLA Student-Athlete Mentors all gathered in a circle at the end of practice, and, over popsicles, they all discussed when they would be getting together again soon.