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Men’s Basketball: players give back

Program allows athletes to mentor N.P. Moss students

UL basketball player David Dees remembers when he was in middle school, and the attention he got from basketball players at hometown Dayton University who volunteered to help him in school.

So, when UL basketball coach Robert Lee was looking for a way for his players to be more involved in the community, and assistant coach Rick LeBato explored the HOSTS program at N.P. Moss Middle School, it was a meaningful match.

HOSTS – Help One Student To Succeed – is a grant-funded, 20-year national program structured to help schools and districts accelerate students’ learning.

"We’re trying to raise the reading levels through language arts – vocabulary, word analysis and comprehension," said Jena Clark, the lead teacher in the reading project. "The UL players have been coming regularly since October.

"We have other members of the community who help. … We’re always looking for volunteers," she said.

The team is trying to become more involved in the community, Dees said before a tutoring session at N.P. Moss last week.

"We want to give back a little bit," he said.

Dees said he had a similar opportunity as an eighth-grader in Dayton.

"It made a big impression. It made me work even harder in school," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to do something special. I hope we can have some influence. It’s never a burden. It’s something we enjoy."

Clark tells the children they are lucky to have this extra attention.

"It’s people taking their own time for them, showing the goodness they have within themselves," she said.

"We’re trying to steer them in the right direction, where they should be instead of hanging in the streets," said Randell Daigle, who helped Northside High to the state title last year before signing with UL.

"I learn where they’re from, who their older brothers and sisters are and whether I know them. … and they get excited about reading," UL player LaRyan Gary said.

LeBato said the program is a good fit for the team.

"Our kids are enjoying it, and it’s fun to see how it affects the students," he said.

Call Jena Clark at N.P. Moss Middle School at 289-1994.