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“A true, genuine partnership:” Adults, kids with disabilities help to motivate Cardinal Stritch basketball players

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Cardinal Stritch University basketball team is nationally ranked in NAIA Division II, but the Wolves also strive for success in the community.

It's not your standard pre-game routine. Prior to a critical conference matchup, the Cardinal Stritch University Wolves mingled with a group from Life Navigators.

"We play a game here in less than two hours, but these types of events, this type of impact -- they're so important that if you can't play a game when two hours earlier, you're making an impact and making someone's life better, then maybe you've got to get a little better at your game," Wolves Head Coach Drew Diener said.

Diener is in his sixth season has Wolves head coach. He has led them to five conference titles and a national championship, but he has led them in life, too. The university has a partnership with Life Navigators, which supports more than 4,000 people in the Milwaukee community -- from kids to adults, who have disabilities.

"When you are in and you see all of the wonderful kids and adults that are here, they are so thrilled to hang out with the basketball team and be a part of what is happening in our community, and then I think on the flip-side what is so wonderful is that these young men have the opportunity to volunteer and serve the community,"

"You know, David over there, he's talking about his mom playing football and he's a momma's boy just like me. I love my mom. It's pretty cool -- a different perspective,"

"You hear that some of them are very good basketball players and they can hit the three-point shot. You hear individuals talking about the Packers loss still. You hear them talking about the game and how we've got to win the game, so they do a nice job of putting the pressure on us to win the game,"

A coach will take motivation anywhere he can find it. The guests from Life Navigators and their families received VIP seating for the contest against Robert Morris University. They were certainly part of the atmosphere, and the Wolves used the support in a tight affair.

"Cardinal Stritch University is all about forming relationship, helping people, making other people's lives better and I think by going out and establishing this relationship with Life Navigators and having them in here, having them to campus, that's a true, genuine partnership,"

The Wolves posted a seventh-straight victory on the court, and on this day, there were winners all the way around.

Cardinal Stritch plays in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference where they have a 13-2 record this season. The team is having a big time impact both on and off the court.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Life Navigators.

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