WATERVILLE, Maine - Thomas College women's soccer senior Cassie Contigiani (Belmont, N.H.) was recently featured by the NCAA in an article detailing her commitment to Special Olympics and unified sports. The NCAA full article can be found HERE.
Contigiani has been involved with the Special Olympics and unified sports since high school, when she was inspired to organize the inaugural Lakes Region Special Olympics Unified Basketball Jamboree by her best friend, Laura, who has an intellectual disability. Since then, Contigiani has continued to take part in organizing the annual event while a student at Thomas.
In her time at Thomas, Contigiani has been an integral part of creating and growing the Special Olympics Club. The club was founded in 2018 and has over 25 members, more than half of which are Thomas student-athletes. The club has hosted the Thomas College Unified Basketball Jamboree the past two years, raising $4,000 for the Special Olympics of Maine. The club also helped assist Thomas in completing the NCAA 50 for 50 Challenge in the 2018-19 school year, which was to have at least 50 student-athletes participate in one or more Special Olympics events. The club held an event to make scarves for the Special Olympics of Maine Winter Games, where over 100 Thomas student-athletes participated, doubling the 50 for 50 goal.
Contigiani credits the Special Olympics Club advisor, Assistant Athletic Trainer Mike Zemrak, for the club's success. "Mike is able to balance his duties as an athletic trainer with being the sole advisor for the club and doesn't miss a beat," said Contigiani. "His dedication, commitment and passion has helped us grow and prosper each year."
Contigiani plans to stay involved with Special Olympics and unified sports after she graduates from Thomas. "My goal is to be a college coach and then continue on to be an athletic director down the road, "she said. "But wherever I go, if they have a Special Olympics program I would want to be involved, and if they didn't have it, I would want to start one. It's an experience that I believe everybody needs to have at some point, whether they're directly involved or cheering from the sidelines."
The 3rd Annual Thomas College Unified Basketball Jamboree will take place in mid-January at Thomas' Larry Mahaney Gymnasium.