C.J. Watson leads Spring Hill Elementary students as part of the "Reading With the Vols" program.
March 4, 2003
Tennessee student-athletes visited three Knoxville elementary schools as part of the "Reading with the Vols" program begun two years ago to encourage children to read books to their parents.
Students at each school now know the Vols student-athletes better than they did before, having seen them up close and personal, instead of just as a face in the crowd or a name in the newspaper. The youngsters were suitably impressed, treating the UT visitors with a combination of being awestuck with an equal mix of third grade bravado.
Visiting Dogwood Elementary School were Drew Clemmons (basketball), Wade Orr and Mark Dietrich (tennis). Visiting Green Magnet School were Zach Turner (basketball) and Marc Sylvester (track). At Spring Hill Elementary School were C. J. Watson (basketball), Brian Mills (cross-country) and James Graves (swimming and diving).
At Spring Hill, Watson, Mills and Graves read to students from Mrs. Wolfe's, Mrs. Jessee's and Mrs. McRary's third grade classes and gave students a glimpse of the young man behind the uniform, the other side of being a student-athlete at UT. They read from How to Make an Apple Pie and How to See the World by Dr. Seuss and from Willis Steed's book entitled Shrek.
They passed out Tennessee shakers to the students and answered questions about being in college and what it's like to be a student-athlete. They also passed out certificates from Verizon Wireless entitling them to free admission to a Vol baseball game after they had read six books.
"Do you think you can read six books?" Graves asked, and every hand in the room went up quickly.
The three student-athletes emphasized that, despite their athletic ability, they also had to have the ability to pass their UT classes, that their academic success was equally as important as their athletic success. Graves noted that he was majoring in speech communication, Mills in psychology and Watson in accounting.
The project is a joint venture of the UT CHAMPS/Life Skills Program, Verizon
Wireless and the men's athletics marketing department.