GORHAM, Maine – The University of Southern Maine Huskies' women's basketball team gathered together before the start of their official season this past weekend to volunteer some of their time and gardening skills as part of the 2018 Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Day of Service. Initiated in 2016, the WBCA Day of Service aims to encourage women's basketball programs across the nation, including NCAA Divisions I, II and III, to give back to their community.
As part of the WBCA Day of Service initiative, the Huskies' women's basketball team chose to volunteer their time lending a hand and saying thanks to the University's Facilities Management crew. Finding time between their classes, clinical hours, strength & conditioning workouts, part-time jobs, and various other commitments, the Huskies met at Hill Gym and headed down to Ed Flaherty field and took to the task of weeding the warning track. From custodial services, grounds maintenance, energy and utility services, mechanical trades, sustainability, and more, the University's Facilities Management department is vital to nearly every facet of a successful athletics operation, and Huskies' women's basketball chose to use its day of service to say thanks and hopefully tick off one of the many items on the grounds crews' checklist.
"Every year our facilities crew does tremendous work to not only keep our campus beautiful, and safe – especially during some of those winter storms – but in helping prepare our fields and competitive arenas for game day," said women's basketball junior guard Katie Howe (New Boston, N.H./Goffstown). "The WBCA Day of Service was a great way to get together as a team, have some fun, and pitch in to keep our campus in great shape by weeding some of our athletic fields and picking up trash."
"Since my freshman season Coach Allen has made responsible citizenship a part of our team's tradition," said senior Kimberly Howrigan (Fairfield, Vermont/Bellows Free Academy). "As a team, and as student-athletes we are active in serving our surrounding communities through our work with SAAC and with Special Olympics Maine. The Day of Service gave us a chance to make a small gesture of gratitude to our facilities crew, and the people who play a large role in our ability to play intercollegiate sports."
Active in community service efforts, Huskies' women's basketball routinely volunteers its time with Maine Special Olympics, USM's Husky Day of Service, Holiday Caroling, Town of Gorham Night, and more. Several of the team's members are also active in USM's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) with Howrigan and Howe holding leadership roles as the committee's president and vice president, respectively.
"It's hands off in Division III before that magical October 15 start date, so these players are planning, organizing and executing this campus cleanup effort on their own" said fourth-year head coach Samantha Allen. "Our women's basketball program has taken a special interest in both our campus and greater Gorham communities, and these student-athletes never cease to amaze me with their willingness to chip in and do their part in meaningful community service."
As the Huskies' official season approaches, the women's basketball team is continuing its tradition of community-oriented service projects and volunteerism. As part of its opening weekend, Southern Maine will host Thomas College, Castleton University and UMaine Farmington for its USM Veterans Day Tip Off Tournament, Friday and Saturday, November 9-10. During the weekend, Huskies' women's basketball will be coordinating with Husky Vets, an on-campus veteran-orientated student group; and the United States Marine Corps Reserves, Alpha Company in support of the USMC's Toys for Tots charity event.