March 5, 2013
By Lauren Haines
Dr. Seuss once wrote, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you know, the more places you'll go."
In true Seuss fashion, seven members of the Auburn women's basketball team ventured to Salem, Ala. on Friday March 1, to read to the sixth-graders of Wacoochee Elementary School, promoting literacy in honor of what would be Seuss' 109th birthday.
Working and interacting with kids is junior guard/forward Tyrese Tanner's favorite off-court aspect of being on the team.
"We all love kids, the whole team does," Tanner said. "The kids' basketball camp we usually do in the summer is our favorite part of off-season so being able to come out here and read is really fun for us."
Freshman guard Cedricka Sweeting hopes the children not only take away the message from the books, but an understanding of what it truly means to be a student-athlete.
"A lot of people, even people as young as these sixth-graders, have perceptions of student-athletes," Sweeting said. "Being able to come to elementary schools allows for kids to know first-hand what it's like to be a student-athlete. It gives us the opportunity to tell them that they have to pay attention in the classroom to be on the court. That you can't have one without the other."
Kathy Hicks, media specialist and school librarian at Wacoochee Elementary, gave each team member their own classroom in which to read two books. After the student-athletes were finished reading, the sixth-graders were allowed to ask any questions they wanted, an opportunity that senior guard/forward Blanche Alverson says doesn't happen often.
"Having the kids ask us questions at the end of an event like this is so rare," Alverson said. "It's a great opportunity for them to really interact with us and get to know us on a more personal level. They start to view us as people and not just someone who is really tall and plays a sport, which I think is important."
Alverson, who is in the process of collecting books for her Ballin' for Books campaign, says that aside from raising awareness of the importance of literacy, she hopes to spread a much broader message.
"Any opportunity that we as a team have to talk to kids and let them know that they too can be successful, we are going to take it," Alverson said. "What we all want them to know is that if you set goals for yourself and you work really hard, you can be successful at anything you do."