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The entire UConn men's basketball team spent some quality time with 150 children at the Newtown Youth Academy on Thursday afternoon. Retired Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun also made the trip.
The Huskies signed autographs, played games and just hung out with the children for 90 minutes. Newtown officials requested that no media attend the event.
"It was a good experience," sophomore Ryan Boatright said Friday after practice in Storrs. "It was something to bring happiness to that town and put smiles on the kids' faces. I know they've been through a lot."
Coach Kevin Ollie had talked about doing something for the Newtown community since the tragedy happened.
"It was something special...," Ollie said. "Kids were smiling. Parents were smiling. We got an opportunity to interact with the kids and just play basketball and just have fun. We're all kids at heart. I like to try to tell myself I'm still a kid because that's what it is all about."
"… They're all big, huge fans and sometimes they just want to spend time with you. … We just sat in the background and watched the kids play Knockout. Our players were great with them and it was just a great time overall."
Ollie strongly believes the Huskies have an obligation to help out in any way that they can.
"It's just a responsibility that we have as human beings to give back," Ollie said. "That's the only thing I look at. … This is our jobs. This is why God created us – to help other people in need. Hopefully, on the other end, somebody is helping you."
While at the Newtown Youth Academy, Ollie and Boatright, who share a birthday on Dec. 27, were presented with a cake.
"It was a good (40th) birthday," Ollie said. "I shared it with Ryan, which is always good."
Former UConn team manager Kyle Lyddy, who lives in Newtown, attended the event.
Check out the attached video of Ollie talking about the Newtown visit and Saturday night's game against Washington at the XL Center in Hartford.
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.