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Special Olympians join Aggie footballers for Saturday event

Alex Abplanalp, an athlete with Team Davis, a local squad of youths and adults with special needs, celebrates after a drill at a 2011 clinic with the UCD football team. The 2013 edition of the annual event is Saturday afternoon at Aggie Stadium. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

By
From page B1 | April 03, 2013 |

For the third consecutive spring, Aggie Nation will provide heartfelt support for Special Olympics athletes on Saturday as the UC Davis football team hosts a clinic and flag football games.

Defensive drills, pass-route instruction, quarterback training and chalk talks are part of the 2½-hour gathering at Aggie Stadium.

The brainchild of Campus Recreation Director Laura Hall, Team Davis President Robin Dewey and retired UCD football coach Bob Biggs, the popular outing hasn’t missed a beat with new coach Ron Gould in place.

“The (current) staff is embracing it and (Gould) is a man of amazing character,” Hall told The Enterprise. “It’s a big-time atmosphere for everybody: the staffs, the Aggie players, the Special Olympians. We’re very excited.”

From 1 to 3:30 p.m., more than 60 members of Gould’s inaugural football team will be on hand, joining a full complement of Aggie coaches and volunteers from Hall’s on-campus cadre and Team Davis officials.

Gould, who has long volunteered with a group called E Soccer through his church, is looking forward to working with Hall, Dewey and the special athletes come Saturday.

“Anytime our players go out and are involved in the community, I am all in favor of that,” the former Cal associate head coach explained. “Community service will always be a big part of this program.”

This year, Dewey invited the Discovery All-Stars of Natomas, a group catering to youths and adults with special needs, and Galt Special Olympians to participate.

“It’s great that this is expanding,” Hall added. “At first, people thought ‘Wow, this is football and people are going to get hurt.’ But we need to spread the word this is flag football …

“If you could just see their faces; the fun they all have.”

Well, fans can see their faces. The clinic and games are open to the public.

In opening the event to other cities, Hall hopes as many as 150 special-needs athletes will take advantage of the afternoon of football.

Four separate scrimmages will follow the good-natured instruction. Campus intramural sports volunteers will serve as referees while Aggie players supervise the action.

Notes: This clinic has been just the tip of the community-service iceberg for Aggie football players over the years. Classroom presentations at the region’s elementary schools, visits to Shriners’ Children’s Hospital and undertakings like the Wine to Water Project (raising funds for clean water in developing nations) have dotted UCD’s grid agenda. “Personally, it’s about giving back to the community because it supports us through all our home games,” says second-year Aggie running back Courtney Williams, a former Davis High standout. “Just one of the small things our football team does … and I enjoy it a lot.” … The Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh will once again make an appearance at Saturday’s festivities. … For more information on Team Davis, visit www.team-davis.org. … The clinic is presented as a joint function of Campus Recreation & Unions and Intercollegiate Athletics.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8047.

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