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Rebels Kick off Reading Week

Feb. 27, 1998

By Brad Tittrington
News Editor, The Rebel Yell

The UNLV athletic program helped kick off Nevada Reading Week by volunteering their time at local elementary schools to read to the students and emphasize the importance of education.

Sponsored by UNLV Sports Marketing and Communication students Jackie Roderick and Jill Reinhardt, the UNLV student-athletes hit Paradise Elementary School on Tuesday. Those athletes involved on Tuesday were basketball player Kaspars Kambala, volleyball player Meri-de Boyer, football player Ty Jackson, swimmer Ryan Lathrum and former football tight end David White.

"It's an overall great event for the student-athletes," Promotions and Public Relations in Sports Marketing Assistant Paula Pettit said. "They go out into the community to give back to the people that support UNLV athletics. It is great for the kids because they get to meet their role models. It is a positive confidence booster for the kids to stay in school."

For an hour out of the day, the athletes have gone to the local elementary schools and read selected books for the grade levels that they have been invited to.

For instance, Kambala and White read The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss to Michelle Howe's fifth grade class. White and Kambala emphasized the importance of a good education and the importance of reading to the students.

"School is fun," White said. "You guys have a lot of years ahead of you to learn. You guys can do whatever you want. Listen to your teachers and to your parents and you will be fine."

"It is very important to start learning (how to read) as fast as you can," Kambala said. "Stay in school."

Kambala, a native of Latvia, didn't start reading in English until the age of 17. Currently 19, Kambala was able to leave a lasting impression on the young children.

For some of the volunteers, it was a chance to get away from some of the negative publicity that the athletic department has received lately.

"It is a great opportunity and shows the other side of things," White said. "They are good people, and role models. It shows the other side of it, off the field. Kambala really wanted to do it. We just tried to have fun with the kids."

"A lot of good things that athletes do get overshadowed by the negative things," Pettit said. "I think overall it's a good community building type of event. I don't think that many people even know there is a Nevada Reading Week."

UNLV Director of Community Relations in Sports Marketing Terry Cottle believes the event is a benefit to both sides.

"It is a win-win situation," Cottle said. "It brings our kids back to reality to see the importance of being role models. It is really neat with 'Kas' with English as his second language. We try to get all the different athletes from different sports involved. It helps us get out into the community."

The readings were followed by an impromptu autograph session where all the kids rushed to get pens and paper to have their new found role models' signatures.

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