MILWAUKEE — They’re looking to be great on the court, but the Marquette University men’s basketball tam is also trying to prove that they can be great in the classroom, and that includes being great role models for some young Milwaukee students.
When you think of the MU Golden Eagles basketball team, you think of the excitement they bring to thousands when they are on the basketball court. This season, they’re bringing some excitement away from the court — in the classroom.
“We are reading to the kids — trying to show them the importance of higher education and of school. Being able to come in and be like, a special day and surprise them and like, they see that and be more attentive and really listen to you when you’re talking,” Matt Heldt, MU sophomore center said.
The MU men’s basketball program has teamed up with SHARP Literacy for a program called “Reading with the Golden Eagles.” Players read to first and second graders. It is an age group that SHARP Literacy President Lynda Kohler said is a focus for them.
“A lot of the initiatives happening right now in the city of Milwaukee in really third grade reading is reading at a proficient level in third grade, and that`s part of our mission and goals as well, so that`s why we`ve targeted the young kids,” Kohler said.
Heldt said he hopes the visits will show students that reading is fun and beneficial, and it’s needed for their future.
“The importance of education, and that anyone can go to college and it’s just about how hard you work in school,” Heldt said.
Besides reading, there is a visit from the Marquette University mascot, and kids receive a “Reading with the Golden Eagles” T-shirt. They also get a chance to hang out with the basketball players, and ask them questions and have photos taken with them.
Besides performing on the court, these players know that being active in the community is an important responsibility.
“We are figures in the community. A lot of people in Milwaukee support Marquette basketball. A lot of kids follow Marquette basketball and think it’s really cool to be able to meet us so we can have an influence on them,” Heldt said.
The program also has a competitive element. The kids who read the most earn prizes like tickets to Marquette games, autographs and other MU items.