By Samantha McKosky ’19 / Sports Information Intern

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  Last month, the Eastern Connecticut State University women’s soccer team assembled an event with the nationwide organization, Best Buddies. Team member Aly Clarke organized the club and event for the first time this year.

This past school year, the women have been involved with the club Best Buddies, which is dedicated to people with intellectual disabilities to promote inclusion and friendships. The women’s team is paired up with someone who has an intellectual disability and they help create meaningful connections by getting together once a month, reaching out once a week, whether it’s a text, call or Snapchat.

Others may participate by working as an associate member, who don’t have a buddy, but still attend the events to form a fun experience with the team. At the end of every month, the pairs write “Buddy Updates” sharing their one-on-one experiences and the activities they did.

In mid-April, the women’s team put together a soccer event in conjunction with Alumni Day at the Mansfield Outdoor Athletic Complex with their buddies to play a game. “Everyone was super involved and really had a good time. There were lots of smiles and laughs,” said Clarke, a junior Early Childhood Education major from Mystic pursuing  a career as a special education teacher.

Eastern head women’s soccer coach Chris D’Ambrosio also felt the organization connected each other more. “I really enjoyed working with Best Buddies. Great atmosphere, good positive vibe. Excellent organization that works well with mentally and physically challenged adults in the local community. More students and student athletes should look into joining this organization and volunteering,” observed D’Ambrosio.