JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 19, 2017) – ETSU’s student athletes volunteered their time beyond the playing fields and college classrooms Tuesday night, as a number of ETSU’s sports teams participated in “All-Star Reading Night” at Northside Elementary School in Johnson City.
The event, coordinated by Northside Elementary faculty member and ETSU alumnus Nancy McDonald, is an attempt to help elementary students realize the importance of reading balanced with physical activity. This year’s event marks the 12th anniversary of the “All-Star Reading Night.”
ETSU, along with other local high schools and colleges, volunteered time to help the teachers facilitate the event.
“None of this would be possible without the athletes coming to read and the coaches promoting it,” McDonald said. “For this event, I want our students to realize that college is an option. If you can’t read, you can’t do much in life, so we want our students to have a love of reading.”
McDonald’s inspiration for the event came when she met legendary basketball coach John Wooden while she was in college. Wooden, like McDonald, had a passion for reading and sports, giving McDonald the idea of incorporating both into the event.
The ETSU athletes sat and read with various elementary students throughout the night. After the elementary students finished reading, they were able to go outside and play soccer with the athletes.
“It means a lot knowing that we can have an impact on future student athletes,” said ETSU women’s basketball senior forward Malloree Schurr. “It’s really humbling to be here knowing that there is so much more to being an athlete that the sport itself, so helping children read is awesome.”
ETSU senior baseball pitcher Daniel Sweeney said he enjoyed giving back to the community.
“As student athletes, we’ve been in their shoes before wanting to grow up and be a student athlete,” Sweeney said. “It’s a really cool experience to read with them knowing that they look up to us.”
Teammate Christian Bailey, a senior infielder, said not only did he feel he was making an impression on the children, but they were also making an impression on the athletes.
“It’s really special to see their faces light up when they see us, and our faces light up just as much as theirs do,” Bailey said. “For us, giving back to the community and watching them become future students and future athletes and community members means a lot to us.”
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