April 12, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas -
First-grade students from the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) packed the Montagne Center on the Lamar campus for the Cardinal Connection. A combined effort between the BISD, ExxonMobil and Lamar athletics, the Cardinal Connection is a "stay in school" initiative that promotes the importance of reading.
"Our athletes have a great time doing this, and look forward to it every year," said director of athletics Jason Henderson. "It is a way for them to give back to our community that supports us so much throughout the season. Our athletes use skits and games to help teach these children the importance of reading."
Lamar student-athletes had spent the previous two days traveling around to all of the BISD schools meeting the students, as well as reading their favorite stories. On Friday, the roles were reversed as the BISD students came to the Lamar campus.
Approximately 130 student-athletes representing all of Lamar's varsity sports, and the LU spirit squads showed up to spend time with the kids. Even Big Red made a special appearance at the event. As the children entered the Montagne Center, Cardinal and Lady Cardinal athletes went into the stands to greet the children and give high fives. Senior quarterback Caleb Berry took a football and began playing toss with kids while waiting for the program to begin, an idea that quickly caught on with the LU baseball and basketball teams.
The athletes used skits illustrating the importance of practice to get better in their respective sports to draw parallels to reading and staying in school. The program ended with Lamar mascot Big Red reading a book to those in attendance.