Shocker athletes give back through reading program


Aliyah Funschelle

Gabriela Reyna, WSU athlete, reads a book to Heather Crumps’ third grade class at Adams Elementary.

Wichita State Athletics and Adams Elementary School partnered to create Reading with the Shockers, a program that brings a different WSU team to the school each month.

Athletes read to students and conduct educational activities with alternating third grade classes.

“The program helps the kids see what they can be,” program facilitator Esteban Aguilar said. “A lot of the kids don’t know much about WSU. They see it everywhere, but don’t really know about it.”

The reading program not only lets the athletes read to the children, but gives them the opportunity to talk about their involvement with the team and campus.

“It feels really good to give back to the kids,” cross country and track athlete Rita Schnacker said. “It’s a unique experience to be able to work with them. They were excited to learn about what sports we were in and different things we do around campus.”

When the track athletes came to read, they also added their insight on scholarships. Third grade teacher Heather Crump said she believes that made a big impact on her students.

“We were specifically talking about scholarships today, so paying for college is a big deal for our students,” Crump said. “Just that drive to want to go to college, play a sport, do music or something to get a scholarship … it seems more attainable for the kids.”

Crump said the reading program has also increased her students’ enthusiasm for reading.

“The kids really look forward to the reading, so it increases their engagement in joy of reading,” Crump said. “They get super excited.”

The athletes create teaching points for each book to share with students.

“It felt really nice to be around little kids and help them grow up and give them life lessons throughout the book,” cross country and track athlete Miles Griffith said. “My favorite part was being around them. They’re really nice kids, really ambitious, happy to be there, and happy to see us.”

Aguilar said the athletes inspire the children, even to the point where they want to pursue the athletes’ sport.

“The kids talk about it for the whole rest of the week,” Aguilar said. “Having younger people definitely inspires them.”

“I guarantee you, now there will be a bunch of kids saying ‘I want to do cross country.’”