By Steve Parker
Yokosuka, Japan – On the final week before Christmas vacation, 2015 members of the Nile C. Kinnick High School (KHS) Varsity Basketball team inaugurated “Building Red Devil Pride,” a new program to build civic pride in the community and connections with students from The Sullivans School. The KHS student athletes adopted an elementary school classroom and visited their classrooms for the first time on that day with the goal of developing a relationship and laying the groundwork for future visits. Both schools are part of the Yokosuka complex of Schools on board Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka.
The program was spearheaded by Robert Stovall, the School Year 2015-2016 varsity basketball coach who wants his players to, “read aloud to the children, work with a small group on a project or to finish up work, play with them on the playground etc. They should serve as mentors and good role models.” Devon Venturina, Varsity basketball player #4 visited a multiage classroom with his varsity jersey and a basketball in hand. He allowed the fourth and fifth graders to wear the jersey, hold the basketball, and then it was time to get back to work. Venturina and manager Jacob Aquino helped the children with their work and invited them to that night’s varsity basketball game as special guests with a reserved section. The students spent part of the day afterward creating a banner for Venturina and Aquino which they displayed proudly in the section that had been reserved for Sullivans Students. Jacob Aquino, the team manager stated, “It is important for us to be able to come see these children. We want to build a bond with the children in our community.” Venturina was equally eloquent when expressing his desire to,” motivate the children to be better students at school and to pursue their dreams in the future.” Jelani Jackson, one of the Multiage students, took responsibility for displaying the banner and was excited about using it at the next game. Jackson stated, “I got this! They were happy about our banner and they waved at us during the game. I can’t wait for them to come back”
The Student athletes of the KHS Varsity Basketball team have truly become inspiring role models for the younger students. They stress how important it is to do well in school and earn good grades by working hard. Building Red Devil Pride, as desired is building community pride and future student athletes.