Brother Bear

Kody King spends time reading with Mia Matthews as the football team participates in their Brother Bear program.

The Bear’s football team has been very impressive on the field this season, but their work off the field has been just as impressive.

This year the team has implemented the Brother Bear program at A.J. Winters Elementary School. Once a month during the football season, the football team takes roughly an hour at the end of the school day and spends it at A. J. reading with their third grade “little Bears.”

The players are paired with one to three kids. They are able to interact and get to know each other while talking about important things like favorite superheroes and recess games. They then take turns reading to each other for the remainder of the time.

Most kids are able to have one-on-one attention while practicing their reading skills. After they are done, the third graders get a ticket to the next home football game so they are able to go support their “big Bear brother.”

The overall assessment has been a very positive one. The football team took right to the task at hand and soon the room was filled with the quiet whisperings of stories and silly comments.

The only problem the kids have with it is that it is not long enough, and they only come once a month, stated the third-grade teachers.

“I love having the big boys read with us and tell us funny stories,” exclaimed Parker Crane, third-grader.

“It’s fun to hang out with the kids. You never know what they’re going to say,” said Brendon Burbank, Bears running back.

“I love getting to know the kids and who all their families are,” said Kody King, Bears running back/linebacker.

The team as a whole has been very excited about going to read with the “little Bears.” This program gives the football team a unique platform not only to help the third-grade classes but to foster a sense of community cohesiveness. It gives both parties another support structure. They are not only practicing reading every month; they are forging relationships that will help both far into the future.

The coaching staff has made it a goal to promote not just great football, but great life lessons. They are focusing on winning in life, not just winning in games.

“Our job as coaches is to help be mentors to our young men, to help them develop into contributing members of society, and teach them to be great employees, fathers, and husbands. Our job is to make great men. We just get to use football to do that,” said Coach Ryan Messerly.

The coaching staff is hopeful that this program will grow and become a tradition lasting for years to come. They would like to thank the staff of A.J. Winters Elementary for allowing them to use some of their time to teach the players the importance of giving back to the community that supports them. Thank you for helping us teach our team what it really means to Be A BEAR.

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