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UConn men’s basketball team visited Newtown on Thursday

Dec 28, 2012, 11:47 AM EDT

Kevin Ollie, DeAndre Daniels, Tyler Olander AP

There were no grand announcements, and media were asked to keep their distance. But December 27 will go down as the most important day of the season for the Connecticut Huskies, and the reason has nothing to do with what they’ll accomplish on the court.

Head coach Kevin Ollie, his players and former head coach Jim Calhoun made the trek from Storrs to Newtown, Connecticut, which two weeks ago was a the scene of a terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School that resulted in the death of 26 people, 20 of which being children.

The goal was to bring smiles to the faces of children and adults who experienced the unfathomable, something many still struggle to comprehend to this day.

The Huskies visited with about 150 children at the Newtown Youth Academy, spending their time signing autographs, taking pictures and playing games such as “knockout” with the kids. There was even a birthday cake, as both Ollie (now 40 years young) and Ryan Boatright (20) were born on the 27th.

“We know that this community is coming together and will prevail,” Ollie said according to the Hartford Courant, “and we just wanted to go there and show our support, show them that our team and the whole state of Connecticut is behind them.

“It was great for us to be able to see some smiles on their faces and to spend some time with them and do what we could. It was a great experience for our kids. We were proud and honored to be able to help.”

The school established the Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund in the days following the tragedy, which will assist those affected (the siblings of the children and the dependents of the adults who passed, as well as any child who attends Sandy Hook Elementary) with their college tuition when the time comes.

There are more games for the Huskies to play, both at home and on the road, beginning with Saturday’s game against Washington. But no road trip will be as important as UConn’s bus ride to Newtown.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. packhawk04 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I hate Uconn, but doing this is pretty awesome. Even better that they wanted as little media as possible to really spend time with the folks, and not just get their pic taken and leave. Really cool story.

  2. shawndc04 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Having grown up in Connecticut, I’m proud of the boys. Nice, quiet gesture.

  3. florida727 - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Raphielle, thanks for sharing this story. Brightened up my day that’s for sure. It’s great to hear a story like this especially because of how the UConn team approached it. No, “hey, look at what we’re doing”. No, “hey, take my picture with this kid or that family”. They sincerely just wanted to do nothing more than help. That team is revered in Connecticut. Kevin Ollie, you just got a fan for life.

  4. ray1950 - Dec 29, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Kevin Ollie is teaching more than basketball. He is teaching real life skills, and he deserves to be extended, regardless of this year’s record. What a wonderful gesture on his (and his player’s) part.

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