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It was not a typical Wednesday night for the MIT women’s basketball team, who participated in an event complete with dance parties on the sidelines with opposing players. The team took advantage of its bye from NEWMAC action to train with the Pointsetters of Athletes Unlimited in neighboring Newton.

Based on a model similar to Special Olympics, Athletes Unlimited is one of the largest community-based therapeutic recreation programs for people with disabilities in Massachusetts. Serving over 250 local athletes, a variety of year-round programs provide something for everyone, including track, tennis, Zumba, and yoga.

A very spirited and competitive group, the Pointsetters practice every Wednesday and play in a tournament at the end of the season. On this occasion, the squad was a little shorthanded, so the Engineers were able to jump in and assist with a variety of drills before playing a game.

“We had a blast from the minute we walked in to the minute we left,” said MIT captain Mari R. Kordell ‘15. “We were just as excited to be there as the Pointsetters were to have us. They were so enthusiastic and it puts into perspective that basketball isn’t always about win-loss records and final scores.”

The evening was also a personal one for MIT head coach Sonia Raman, as her brother, Nitin, is a member of the Pointsetters. “It was incredible having Nitin’s team and my MIT team all on the court together as one big family,” reflected Raman. “We are so fortunate to be in a position to give back, and doing so within the context of a sport we all love makes it a fun experience.”

Mark Kelly, the Director of Special Needs for the Newton Parks and Recreation Department, thanked Raman and the women’s basketball team for volunteering with the Pointsetters. “Our athletes look forward to seeing the MIT players each year. We know these student-athletes have rigorous schedules both on and off the court and we are thankful they can find time to come volunteer with our athletes.”

“It’s great that there are programs like this for the athletes to play in,” commented Kordell. “I think once anyone volunteers, they’ll definitely want to come back and help again. We all wished we could have stayed longer and can’t wait to come back.”

If you would like to learn more about the program or volunteer please contact Mark Kelly at mkelly@newtonma.gov.