April 9, 2014
WASHINGTON - Georgetown Football Players Take Break From Spring Ball to Visit DC Reads Hoyas provide encouragement for DC children and families
WASHINGTON - Utilizing an off-day from spring practice and the weight room, Georgetown University football players, Nick Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit/The Hotchkiss School), Hunter Books (Oakdale, Minn./North), Alec May (Wrenthem, Mass./King Phillip) and Javan Robinson (Carollton, Texas/Hebron) bused to Southeast D.C. to visit with parents, tutors and the children involved in the DC Reads program.
DC Reads, a program established in 1996 to improve the low literacy rates in the district, has brought college students from around the metropolitan area together to help better the lives of the area's elementary school children by providing extra literacy training.
While Alfieri, Books, May and Robinson did not attend on this specific rainy-weather Sunday to work with the kids, they did spend the afternoon playing games with and encouraging the children about the benefits of education during the organization's Sunday family cookout.
"I reached out to Alec (May), who's my neighbor, because the coordinating staff thought it'd be a good idea to have another group there for the community event we were planning," said Sean Sullivan a junior in the McDonough School of Business and a D.C. Reads Coordinator. "We thought it'd be great to have student-athletes from Georgetown, to show some of our students that athletics and academics can go together. Plus, a bunch of our kids are huge football fans."
While they group spent much of its time indoors, May and his teammates were able to make the best of the situation and still have a good time with the kids, their families and the program's tutors.
"It was a rainy day so we were inside, but it was still a lot of fun," said May, a member of the 2013 Patriot League All-Academic Team. "We threw the ball around, played human bowling and had other games. We all had a blast spending time with the kids; it was a great experience." In addition to play, the student-athletes were on-hand to provide encouragement to the families about the importance of hard work in the classroom. They were able to share personal experience on the challenge of balancing academics and athletics, while also talking about their college experiences.
"The experience was great," Alfieri said. "The interactions with the kids were really positive. We especially bonded with one 12-year-old boy, Stephen, who played football. He had great questions about college football and the college experience itself, which we got to share with him."
The Georgetown football program has long stressed being a "man for others," a mantra that the current Hoyas have been quick to adopt. "The DC Reads event was very enjoyable and inspiring," Robinson said. "I'm a strong believer in mentorship and to be able to make a difference in children's lives by simply hanging out with them is truly priceless. I truly respect DC Reads for taking all the time that they do to make a difference in these kids' lives. I believe we should all be mentors to somebody in our lifetime because, from personal experience, mentorship is life-changing." Robinson's teammates echoed his sentiments, with all of them hoping to be able to continue working with DC Reads.
"The kids seemed to give off an energy that you couldn't ignore and that made you want to participate even more in their activities and games," Books said. "I'd actually like to get involved with the program more and become a tutor for some of the kids, I wish I would have attended a session earlier in my time at Georgetown. It made me feel like I was giving back to the community, even if it was for that short time, and I'd like to keep pursuing that feeling."
Alfieri, Books, May and Robinson each made a strong impression on the DC Reads organization, while their work with the kids was appreciated by everyone involved.
"Alec and the other guys did a great job of engaging the kids, throwing the football around, playing games, and just getting to know them and their families," Sullivan said. "It was a huge success, despite some bad weather, and we were so happy they were able to make it."