West Windsor, N.J. – MCCC’s Unified Sports Program has taken off since its start in September. MCCC Education students have been partnering with DREAM (Developing Real Expectations for Achieving Mastery) students, gathering on a weekly basis for exercise, fun and friendships. Led by Doug Johnson, the group spent its Fridays in the fall on the soccer field, while the winter season was spent on the basketball court.
This energetic and enthusiastic group of students decided to turn it up a notch in March by participating in the Shriver Cup, a friendly competition hosted by Special Olympics for all college and high schools with unified sports programs. Held twice annually, tournaments include soccer in the fall and basketball in the spring, and consist of high school and college divisions.
“This was the first appearance for the Vikings, and what a great appearance it was,” Johnson reported.
The Vikings advanced to the Final Four and finished fourth with a 2-2 record. In addition to Mercer, the college division included Stockton, Rider, TCNJ, Rowan, Montclair, Princeton, Rutgers, Drew, Georgian Court, and Rowan College of Gloucester County.
On the roster for the Vikings were Education students Trevor Jones, Andrew Kishyk, Luvia Urizar, Ivett Figueroa, Sydnie Gingles, and Wensley Civil, and DREAM students Adam Woolf, Shaun Woolf, Mike Sasor and Chris Briscese. In addition to Johnson, coaches included Dan Woods and Pat Redding.
The Vikings started off strong, facing Rowan College of Gloucester County and picking up a 42-38 win. Leading the charge were Sasor and Adam Woolf with 12 points each. Jones, Urizar, Briscese, and Shaun Woolf also contributed to the point total.
The Vikings next faced the home team, Princeton University. Despite a decidedly tougher contest, the Vikings pulled out a 31-27 win on the Tiger’s home court. This time Jones and Adam Woolf led the way in scoring, with Woolf playing the entire game. Sasor, Civil and Kishyk also added to the score.
After a short lunch break, the Vikings were back on the court for their semi-final appearance against Georgian Court, which proved a tough opponent. But the Vikings never backed down or gave up. With just over one minute remaining, the Vikings trailed 39-30, but fought their way back to come within two points. Then, in the closing seconds, Jones drove to the basket and was fouled before taking his shot. In the following inbound play, Adam Woolf attempted a shot that was inches off, and the team lost 39-37.
Johnson noted that the game was another great performance by Jones and Adam Woolf, who led the way in scoring closely followed by Sasor. And again, Adam showed his strength and stamina by lasting the entire game without substitutions.
“We are so proud of these players,” Johnson said. “They put up a great fight all the way to the finish, so much so that the Georgian Court fans and parents applauded them as they walked off the court.”
The game for third place was another tightly fought contest that resulted in a 39-37 loss, this time to Stockton University. In a total team effort, each player found scoring success, with Jones and Adam Woolf leading the way, followed by Sasor and Briscese. In a situation similar to their semifinal loss, the Vikings were down by five with one minute to go. They fought their way back to tie it up, but were foiled by a Stockton player’s go-ahead layup that sealed the win.
Still, the Vikings are happy with their fourth place finish – a very successful ending for the young program’s first competitive appearance. The team will look to keep growing and improving in preparation for next year’s Shriver Cup.
“Most importantly, everyone involved with the program – from the athletes to the coaches – had an awesome time participating in the event. It was a great experience and a real lesson in teamwork. We are already looking forward to next year,” Johnson said.
MCCC DREAM Program
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