COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team spent time with a second elementary school last Friday, sharing lunch time and reading stories to the kindergarten classes of Parkview Elementary School in Cookeville.
Two weeks ago, the Golden Eagles spent time at Capshaw Elementary, telling stories about the beginning of their basketball careers and handing out prizes to students. The trip to Parkview was structured a little differently.
The guys began the day by sharing the lunch hour with the students. Activities ranged from freshman guard DeOndre Haynes singing the ABC's with the children to seeing who could give 7-foot freshman center Eric Weisenbach (pictured above) a high-five while he was standing up.
"I honestly really enjoyed it," said Haynes. "I love being around kids. Something I've always tried to do since I was younger was to try and lead by example so younger kids could learn. Being able to go out there and help the kids and seeing them laugh was great."
Following lunch, the players were divided into groups and visited different classrooms for story time. The Tech players then entertained the children with impressive story-telling skills that kept the kids involved and captivated. Several children were eager to participate by answering questions and pointing out aspects of the pictures.
"It was a good experience," said freshman guard Ammanuel Diressa. "I haven't had many opportunities to do that kind of work. It felt good. I was pretty shy and nervous, but it was fun. The kids were great and really happy we were there. They were joyful when talking to us and were asking us all kinds of questions. It was a great thing to be a part of."
Like several other TTU programs, this is just the beginning for head coach Steve Payne's team as they plan to do a community or campus-wide volunteer event every week they are able. Payne emphasized exactly how important giving back to the community is for the Golden Eagles.
"We've always tried to be a part of our community," Payne said. "One thing we tell the kids we're recruiting is if all they do here, when they come to Tech, is play basketball, we've failed them and they've failed us. We have the kind of men that enjoy doing those things and its good to give back and provide the young people with someone to look up to."