Amherst Teams Up with Local Schools for "Athletes Love to Read" Initiative

Amherst Teams Up with Local Schools for "Athletes Love to Read" Initiative

Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information

AMHERST, Mass. – For the sixth consecutive year, Assistant Athletics Director for Diversity & Inclusion Billy McBride, assistant football coach Adam Banks, and assistant track & field coach Victoria Jusme teamed up with the Maple Elementary School in Easthampton, Mass. as part of the "Athletes Love to Read" initiative.

Together alongside nine varsity and club sport student-athletes, the Amherst contingent traveled to the nearby school to read to students and talk about the sports they participate in and the importance of education and being active.

"What a great night," commented McBride. "Giving helps the Giver, but most importantly it impacts the receiver for life."

The Amherst student-athletes on hand included Emily Hester '17 (women's soccer), Maggie Danner '17 (volleyball), Claire Dennis'20 (volleyball), Jay Drain '18 (men's track & field), Myles Gaines '17 (football), Ezra Alexander '20 (men's rugby), Wade Crowder '20 (men's rugby), Andrea Sanders '20 (softball), and Derek Ward '17 (football).  

"I was really excited to participate in Athletes Love to Read this month. It's always wonderful to engage with the Amherst community," said Hester. "Having a chance to go into a local elementary school and to read with young kids was a treat, and reminded me of getting to read with my nieces and nephew back home. It was so fun watching the kids run around with autograph books asking for our signatures. Something like that reminds you just how powerful sports are in creating role models for young people. Having an adult take the time out of their day to read to me was always something I really valued as a kid, and it was great to have an opportunity to give that to someone else."

Joining Amherst's student-athletes at this year's event were representatives from nearby college's and high schools, including: UMass-Amherst, Springfield College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Williston Northampton School and Easthampton High School.

Dedicated to the promotion of a love of reading, McBride, Sanders and Ward also recently visited Wildwood Elementary School in Amherst, Mass. to spend quality time with a sixth grade class for the school's third annual African-American Read-In. Started by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) 25 years ago, the day, which is celebrated nationally during Black History Month, was developed as a way to recognize stories, books and poetry by African-American authors.

"I believe it to be vitally important to get out into the community and speak to youth about the important of academics and making good decisions because ultimately the foundation they set in their youth will carry into their lives forever," commented Ward. "I always look back to the mentors and speakers I had as a kid and want to make sure I give back just as much because the youth are our future."