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April 21, 2010

Northern Arizona Student-Athletes Host “Student-Athlete for a Day”

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - More than 150 student-athletes served as hosts to 140 students from Kinsey and South Beaver elementary schools during National Student Athlete for a Day on Wednesday, April 21 at Northern Arizona University.  The students attended university classes throughout the morning and toured campus facilities with Lumberjack student-athletes.

“NAU Student-Athlete for a Day is important to our students at Kinsey Community School because it exposes them to college life and the day-to-day responsibilities that student athletes have,” said sixth grade teacher Susanna Ventura.  “They can talk about things like grades, maintaining eligibility, time management skills, and the importance of staying healthy and fit.  Our students can really benefit from this advice.”

National Student-Athlete Day honors student-athletes and the network of parents, coaches, teachers and school systems that make it possible for young people to strike a balance between academic and athletic achievement.

“The majority of our students are on Free or Reduced Lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty level,” said South Beaver Elementary School teacher Annie Crego.  “They would be the first person in their family to attend college.  We hope that activities like this one show our students that anything is possible if you want to work hard enough to get it.  It also introduces them to young adults who had dreams when they were our students’ age that are now a reality.”

In addition to attending classes, the student-athletes conducted a scavenger hunt, played games, and participated in activities on the Skydome turf.  The event culminated with a luncheon and guest speaker in the Skydome for all elementary school students, NAU student-athletes, and visitors.

“Student-athletes are young, fun, energetic and make wonderful role models for our students,” Ventura said.  “I want our sixth-graders to walk away from Student-Athlete for a Day knowing that going to college means doing a lot of hard work, studying hard and staying on top of assignments.  I want them to know that going to college is a possibility for them and to feel less intimidated by the size and complexity of a college campus.”

The day, established by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, is co-sponsored by the NCAA and the National Federation of State and High School Associations (NFHS).

“I want my students to come away knowing that college is not something they will only drive by on their way to a menial job,” Crego said.  “I want them to dream dreams that can become reality.  I want them to see themselves in the faces of the NAU athlete who has chosen to spend the day with them.

“I hope the NAU students have a chance to remember how far they have come since they were in grade school.  I want them to remember the dream that has now become real.  I want them to take a moment to be proud of themselves and what they have accomplished.  I want them to realize that they are a success story and an example for my students.”

Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) Co-Chair Tori Rocke helped organize Wednesday’s event along with other SAAC members.  The sophomore goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team described why community service is so important for NAU student-athletes.

 “It is important for us to volunteer in the community especially with younger kids because it gives them a role model,” said Rocke.  “They get insight into all the hard work and dedication it takes to go to school and be able to play a sport.  It also shows that we do care and want to help out the younger kids achieve their dreams.”

DID YOU KNOW…Student-athletes, coaches and athletic department staff combined to volunteer more than 3,800 hours over the 2008-09 academic year, assisting with events like Red Ribbon Week, Relay for Life, Welcome Back Jacks, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Adopt a Family, Climb to Conquer Cancer. In all, the department participated with more than 20 different organizations and/or events.