A&M-Commerce recognized as finalist for Division II Award of Excellence for Lion Basketball Education Day - LINK
INDIANAPOLIS – Texas A&M University-Commerce is one of 19 schools and two conferences who have been named finalists for the 2018 Division II Award of Excellence, an honor recognizing campus and community engagement efforts over the past year. The Lions were recognized for the inaugural Lion Basketball Education Day, held on December 1, 2016.
Division II annually honors its members for leading events which exemplify any of the six Division II attributes: learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service. A committee of athletics administrators determined this year's finalists, and the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will select the winner, which will be announced during the Division II business session at the 2018 NCAA Convention on Jan. 20 in Indianapolis.
Each finalist will receive $500. The winner will receive $1,500 and a nationally televised football or basketball game during the 2018-19 season. The first runner-up will receive $1,250, and the second runner-up will receive $1,000. All prize money is intended to be used for future community engagement activities.
The Lion women's and men's basketball programs welcomed students from area school districts to attend the basketball doubleheader, which tipped off at 11 a.m. on a Thursday.
While many schools offer local students the opportunity to attend an early tipoff and meet college basketball players, the members of the A&M-Commerce Student-Athlete Advisory Council saw the event as an opportunity to give the students more than just a basketball experience.
SAAC members noted the importance of education in their current situation as Division II student-athletes, and wanted to encourage the students in attendance to not only stay in school, but to also excel in the classroom to keep opportunities in front of them.
"We wanted to spread awareness about education and how important it is to stay in school, get good grades, and try to stay focused in the classroom," said SAAC member and Lion football running back Ovie Urevbu.
SAAC members made two presentations during breaks in the game action. The first presentation was about classroom focus.
"As we were doing our introductions, we would interrupt Ovie and Jaryn - the emcees - with different types of disruptive behavior that we as athletes know can go on in classrooms," said SAAC member and Lion soccer defender Raven Porter. "Acting up in the class isn't okay, and they know it's not okay, but we wanted them to hold themselves and their classmates accountable for disruptive behavior and make good decisions."
SAAC members also wanted to place an importance on reading. The presentation started off with examples of lower-level reading all the way up to some of the larger books student-athletes use in their college coursework.
"We wanted to show the kids that the reading would get harder as they went along, but we also wanted to emphasize that there will be people along the way that can help you that, whether it's teachers, tutors, or other classmates."
CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO OF THE PRESENTATIONS
Invitations were sent to school districts in the nearby communities of Commerce, Sulphur Springs, Community, Greenville, Royse City, Fate, western points of Rockwall, Cooper, Campbell, Cumby, Chisum, Paris, and North Lamar.
"Lion Basketball always welcomes the students of our local school districts to come to our games, and it made perfect sense to move our games to earlier in the day to allow a large number of them to attend," said Lion women's basketball coach Jason Burton. "The students created a huge home court advantage that helped our team come back from a halftime deficit.
"For our Student-Athlete Advisory Council to add an important educational element to the day made this a fantastic all-around experience and one that was not solely about a basketball game. It was a great day and we are looking forward to Education Day in December 2017 and making this a continuing tradition for our program."
"Education Day was an outstanding initiative by Texas A&M-Commerce to not only bring our students to campus for an athletic event, but also expose them to life lessons that they were able to bring back to our community and develop traits of responsible citizens," said Dr. Roosevelt Nivens, superintendent of Community Independent School District. "We appreciated both the educational and athletic collaborations that formed out of this process. It continues to have a definitive impact on our students."
"The Lion Student-Athlete Advisory Council truly enjoyed putting on the presentation for Education Day and helping put together a meaningful experience for the students in our local schools," said Taryn Driver, A&M-Commerce SAAC President in 2016-17 and Division II National SAAC Vice President.
"Providing a fun and informative program for the kids before they took their winter break was important to us, and interacting with so many kids was one of the highlights of our year.
"Our SAAC is always striving to be involved in our communities and schools, and this event was an excellent start to what we hope is a yearly tradition for the kids in our area."
CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO OF SAAC INTERVIEWS
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