Readers as leaders

Readers as leaders
MOSCOW - When head coach Don Verlin came to the University of Idaho, not only did he bring a wealth of basketball knowledge, but as his coach's bio says, a determination to improve the culture of the team off the court as well.

One of the ways he did that, was by spearheading the Readers As Leaders program to help Moscow's elementary-aged children find joy in reading.

Russell Elementary was one of nine schools Verlin's Vandals visited. And according to senior forward Brandon Wiley, the kids weren't the only ones enjoying themselves.

"The whole team enjoys it. I like it," said Wiley. "The kids have a lot of energy and they're fun to have at the game. I think it's important to go out into the community and let everybody know we're here. We enjoy coming out into the community, we enjoy the kids. It's just fun to be here. This is like a break for us, this is fun. It's not a lot of work, we want to be here."

It is anticipated that as many as 2,000 kids will take part in the program this year, 1,200 more than when it started three years ago.
The perks of participating: Each child wearing a Readers as Leaders t-shirt gets free access to every Idaho home basketball game this season.

Furthermore, each student who achieves the Silver and Gold reading goals will be recognized at the final home game on March 5th, and their names will be entered into a drawing for a computer, along with other prizes.