Amherst, N.Y. - On Tuesday, January 17, student-athletes from the Daemen College men's and women's basketball teams became the first from the College to participate in "Reading Wildcats", a community outreach initiative in which Daemen student-athletes travel to local elementary schools where they read and interact with students in an educational setting. Last week's session was conducted with second and third-grade students at the Charter School for Applied Technologies (CSAT) in the City of Buffalo.
Team members read books with the children and answered their questions about what it takes to become a collegiate student-athlete. The interaction between college student-athletes and elementary school children is mutually beneficial, according to Daemen basketball coaches Mike MacDonald and Jenepher Banker.
"We feel it is really important for our student-athletes to get out in the community," said MacDonald who is currently in his third season leading the Daemen men's basketball program, and his 20th as a collegiate head coach overall. "It's beneficial for the young students because our players are role models that they can look up to. It wasn't too long ago that our players were in their shoes, dreaming of playing college basketball. They have achieved a dream, and it's good for today's youths to see that. It's great for our guys to see the impact they can have on young people's lives, and hopefully it will encourage them to continue to excel in their studies here because there are a lot of little eyes watching them."
Banker, who is in her first season leading the Daemen women's basketball program after a long career as an educator herself, echoed the same sentiments, saying, "The 'Reading Wildcats' program is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to connect with the community. Having our players read to and answer questions for the classes allowed the children to learn that if they work hard, they too can accomplish their goals. It certainly gave our student-athletes a sense of just how much impact they can have on this world."
School officials at CSAT were happy that their students were provided this opportunity, according to assistant principal Sue Jurewicz.
"CSAT strives to instill the importance of college and career readiness to our students every day," Jurewicz said. "Having an opportunity for them to listen and speak with athletes about hard work, determination, and the importance of academics is invaluable to CSAT and its core values."
The "Reading Wildcats" program is an ongoing initiative of Daemen Athletics. For more information about the program and how to schedule Daemen student-athletes to a visit a school near you, please contact Mame Yaa Ankoma-Mensa, student-athletes success and community engagement coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.