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Bulldogs Leave Lasting Impression On Goodlesville Students

February 26, 2014
By Russell Acklin of Fisk University


Bulldog junior Austin Watkins enjoyed his time woth the students

GOODLESVILLE, Tenn.- Being a college athlete has its ups and downs. On one hand you have to learn to balance school, studying, travel, practice and games. On the other you are known around campus and you receive many accolades from your peer group. Over time being able to do those things sometimes becomes a challenge. The Fisk Bulldog Men's Basketball team and Head Coach Jay Smith took a break from all that to read and play with about 100 third and fourth grade students at Goodlesville Elementary School earlier this month. The visit left a lasting impression to everyone involved.

"We play a lot of games during the season and it becomes tough on the players after a while," said Coach Smith. "Getting them away from the court is always good. It's funny that we came with the mindset to brighten the students' day but we left with a sense of happiness ourselves. The guys really enjoyed themselves."

Members of the team sat in rocking chairs and read the Christmas Story to the students. They also played one on one basketball with some select students and passed out Fisk University memorabilia which included t-shirts, water bottles and bags. They also were asked to sign autographs. Gym teacher Mr. Alan Sipe, Physical Education Teacher at the school for 23 years, was especially grateful for team doing that.

"The kids went crazy when the players started handing the items out," said Mr. Sipe. "I wish these guys could come back every week. The students continue to ask me when they are coming back. This is an oppoutunity for them a look into their future. To have a college basketball to visit, read and play with you is special. Coach Smith is extremely supportive in the community. I really enjoyed the reaction from some of our African-American students. They got to be up-close and personal with some great role models. This impression will last with them forever."

Mr. Sipe was also impressed with the playful banter the team had while playing basketball with the students. He recalled some of the players heckling each other when a student scored on them. One of the top hecklers was juniors Austin Watkins and Cameron Lewis.

"Some of those kids have game already," said Watkins a NAIA All-Academic Nominee. "Talking is part of my game so this came easy to me. It means a great deal to me to see the smiles on the kids' faces. They really seemed to listen to us when we talked about the importance of staying in school and listening to their parents and teachers and how far that can get you. I will never forget how much fun I had."

"I honestly believe that going to see the kids put more smiles on our faces than the kids," said Lewis. "I remember meeting college players when I was their age. Sometimes when you get into the season you get tunnel vision and forget about opportunities like this. I appreciate them welcoming us and showing the love that they did."

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