Evergreen Hoopsters Join Reading Crusade

June 15, 2001

OLYMPIA, WA -- For the last four years, The Evergreen State College men's and women's basketball players were noted for their ability to shoot, score, and read defenses. Last month, the Geoducks took their ability to read to a new level, as six players volunteered as reading mentors at the Capital Mall.

In association with the South Sound Reading Foundation, the Geoduck players spent a Saturday in May at the shopping complex, reading stories to local children while the youngster's parents were shopping.

"It was a good opportunity for us as a program to get out in the community," said senior All-Conference guard Heather Johnson. "The kids really seemed to enjoy it."

A big plus was the fact that the children were able to sit in a fairly intimate setting and hear stories from intercollegiate athletes. At times, a few kids had the opportunity to choose their own story and were read to by the Clams individually.

"The kids we had the chance to read to really had fun," said senior captain Abel Koeltzow. "This was not only a good opportunity to give something back to a community that supports our teams, but it was really unique to see a different side of my teammates as they were interacting with kids."

The reading program is an extension of a similar activity the Geoducks performed during last season. Players visited local schools, spreading the importance of education and athletics. What ensued was an influx of children attending home basketball games.

"This was a great opportunity for Evergreen student-athletes to show that they are more than just athletes. I think young people need to know how important education is, because athletics is fun and exciting, but it will only take you so far," Johnson said.