June 1, 2010
On Saturday, June 5, from 8:15am-12:00pm, the UCLA football team will host the Prime Time Games; a full-inclusion, peer-mentor sports program in which economically disadvantaged and under-served middle school students from the Team Prime Time after-school program ("coaches") coach and play alongside children with developmental disabilities ("athletes") in the only after school sports program of its kind.
Approximately 30 football players and many other UCLA athletes will take part in "Championship Saturday," serving as honorary coaches and captains for the inclusive soccer and basketball teams. This already inspirational day should start on an even higher note as Head Football Coach Rick Neuheisel will address the hundreds of coaches, athletes and families in attendance during the Opening Ceremonies, which take place on Spaulding Field at 9am. Soccer commences soon thereafter on Spaulding while the basketball teams will play in the Student Activities Center. The basketball games feature guest referee Matt Stevens, the radio analyst for UCLA football and a former Bruin quarterback.
The driving force behind bringing the Prime Time Games to UCLA is Mike Linn, UCLA's Head Athletic Performance Coach, "This unique program builds much needed self esteem and self confidence in two uniquely different population groups through sports," said Linn. "The lessons learned through coaching, as well as through participation in sports, are long lasting and should be available for all to experience. This one day event will highlight the Team Prime Time program and its many participants. "
The Prime Time Games began with 20 athletes from six LAUSD schools in Fall of 2004. By Spring of 2005, the program had nearly tripled in size. To date, over 250 athletes with developmental disabilities ranging from autism to down syndrome have participated in the Prime Time Games. At the core of the Prime Time Games lies the very simple premise that bringing two "high-risk" populations together, united by a shared love of sport, will generate lasting benefits for everyone involved.