The inaugural UC Davis Men’s Basketball Reading Program will give Division I athletes, who are in the midst of training for their upcoming season, an opportunity to serve as role models — teaching the importance of education to impressionable youths.
The Aggies, under the supervision of assistant coach Chris Davis, have committed themselves to visiting and giving reading lessons at 32 elementary schools. The outreach effort will impact more than 18,000 students in local schools during the 2012-13 academic year.
Three Davis elementary schools — Montgomery, Birch Lane and Willett — will participate in the program.
In its mission to give back to the community by teaching others, the UCD squad is expected to do an equal amount of self-improvement.
“Part of us educating our student-athletes is applied to more than just the classroom,” said second-year Aggie head coach Jim Les, a former Sacramento Kings player. “When our guys have to walk into a classroom and interact with students and keep them engaged, those are great learning lessons.”
Youngsters involved in the reading guidance will receive tickets to watch their Aggie mentors compete during the 2012-13 campaign. Player bios, videos and posters will also be provided during the program.
Allowing the students to feel special about their accomplishments with these prizes, Les explained, will foster the encouraging environment that UCD is setting out to achieve.
“The feedback we get from the teachers is that they’re always looking for added motivational tools,” Les said. “If what we’re doing can further motivate the kids in our community to work harder in the classroom, and better themselves from an educational standpoint — that’s a mission accomplished for us.”
The Aggie squad will suit up for the first time this week with an exhibition game against UC Santa Cruz on Thursday at 7 p.m. The preseason bout ensues after the UCD women face Redlands at 4:45 p.m.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces that are working hard, and building some chemistry and cohesiveness,” Les said of the local men. “I’ve been very pleased with the effort, energy and enthusiasm. We’re excited for Aggie basketball this season and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch, so we’re hoping a lot of fans will come check us out.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052.