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College Athletes Inspire RJB Students to Shoot for the Stars

RJB fourth graders upped their game this week with the help of @valiantswbb, Manhattanville’s Valiants women's basketball team. Coaches and teammates took to the court with the elementary students before taking it into the classrooms with a special story time and Q&A. “Recess & Reading” is spearheaded and facilitated by the District Literacy Coach, Lori D’Andrea, and it’s all about having fun, being active, and engaging students’ interest and imagination through stories. “This partnership is one way that we help foster a lifelong love of reading in our students,” said Ms. D’Andrea. “Our students develop a real respect for Manhattanville’s student-athletes, and its great to see how eager they are to hear about their college experience and personal journeys.”


The college basketball players read Michael Jordan, a children’s book about “not fearing failure so you can succeed and be the G.O.A.T.” The book is full of inspirational messages, such as overcoming obstacles, making things happen instead of wishing for them, and that with passion and determination, anything is possible.


After reading, the players fielded questions from the fourth graders…and they had a lot of them! Most students wanted to know if the college athletes succeeded on their own or if someone in their life encouraged them. Other curiosities included whether they play more than one sport in college, why they chose to play at Manhattanville, and if they plan on playing for the WNBA. “It has always been a dream of mine,” said Valiant’s forward Niyona Smith. The students also heard from Coach Vlahakis. “It takes a lot of practice and dedication to be a college athlete. We practice six days a week, and on top of that, players have to go to class and do their schoolwork,” she said. “It’s a big commitment, but they get to do what they love and be part of a family and sisterhood.”


After the last couple of questions - “When is your birthday?” and “Who are your favorite NBA players?” (A’ja Wilson and Sabrina Lonescu), the students asked for the athletes’ autographs. The players were more than happy to oblige. The Greenburgh students weren’t the only ones who learned from the experience. While walking out of RJB, one player called it “amazing,” and another teammate captured it this way - “You never know how you might influence someone’s life.” #WeareGreenburgh