March 21, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The University of Wyoming Athletics Department has established a new program titled "Reading With the Pokes". This program involves UW student-athletes attending local elementary schools and reading with young people of all ages.
Over 90 Cowboy and Cowgirl student-athletes from all sports have participated in the new reading initiative. The UW students reached out to Linford Elementary and Beitel Elementary in Laramie and in addition to reading various books, the UW students also talked with children about their sports, upcoming competitions and what it is like to be a Wyoming student-athlete. Student-athletes also ate lunch and played games at recess with elementary students.
"Reading to the little kids is a great way to inspire and push kids closer to their dreams," said Tyler Cox, a sophomore wrestler from Gillette who is competing at this week's NCAA Wrestling National Championships. "I enjoy reading to the little guys! It's a great way for student-athletes to give back."
"I really enjoyed reading Dr. Suess books to the 4th graders," said Kristen Jensen, a sophomore on the women's golf team from Picture Butte, Alberta, Canada. "It was really neat to see how excited the kids got when they found out that they would get to spend time with an athlete. They were a ton of fun to be around and I can't wait til we can participate in the activity again."
"I had a great time, it was a great experience," said Eddie Yarbrough, a sophomore on the football team from Aurora, Colo. "Seeing how much those third graders love Wyoming football was an awesome thing. Going and reading to those kids was heartwarming and truly a blessing to me and the Wyoming football program I will definitely be going back."
"I am very proud of the turnout and participation of our student-athletes," said Steven Cox, Academic Coordinator in UW Athletics Office of Academic Support. "This says a lot about their character and their awareness of the impact they can have as a student-athlete on young people in the Laramie community. This is a fulfilling experience for our student-athletes, as well as the students in the classrooms. Our student-athletes are constantly representing their team, our department and campus as a whole, and they did an outstanding job. The coaches do a great job emphasizing to their student-athletes the importance of making a commitment to community service and giving back to the people who support them the most -- the fans."
Cowboy and Cowgirl student-athletes have banked approximately 1,700 hours of community service since the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year, and are working towards a goal of 3,000 hours by the end of the spring semester.
Some of the other community service projects that UW student-athletes have participated in this academic year include: the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) collected Toys for Tots in conjunction with the United States Marine Corps Reserve; the swimming and diving teams are involved in highway beautification, sponsoring a stretch of highway which they clean up on a regular basis; the women's golf team serves meals at the Eppson Center for Seniors; women's soccer and volleyball sponsor youth clinics regularly; and UW SAAC also coordinates a number of canned food drives that provide food to local food banks.
Earlier this month, University of Wyoming student-athletes finished third out of nine conference schools in the 2012-13 Mountain West Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Community Service competition. Fresno State was awarded this year's Mountain West SAAC Community Service Award. UNLV finished second.