By Juwaun Tye, Transcript Correspondent
Second graders are influenced, inspired, and jump up and down in joy as a result of the OWU football team every Friday.
The Ohio Wesleyan football team puts smiles on kid’s faces every week, not on the field, but in the classroom. The team donates time to the Delaware community weekly, by going to James Conger Elementary School to read, play board games and play at recess with the second graders.
The program, called “2nd & 7,” started when Head Coach Tom Watts began coaching at Ohio Wesleyan, six years ago. Ulysses Hall, an OWU football coach, and director of “2nd & 7,” knows the value of community service and encourages all the football players to volunteer at least once.
“Everytime we volunteer, it’s like a celebration for the kids, and I want every single one of our players to see it for themselves,” Hall said.
On average 10-16 football players volunteer every week to go to the elementary school.
“We go every friday for eight weeks straight, and [have] had about 40 different players go. The kids look up to us, so it’s great for them to see us coming to their school every week. The goal is to positively affect their lives,” Hall said.
“The players affect the students lives by simply being there, Hall said.
When the kids see the players giving up their time to volunteer, the kids have something to strive for.
Darius Randolph, an OWU freshman football player said “The biggest impact of all is when the kids see that we’re there for them. When the kids see us with our helmets off, they get a better feel that we are real caring human beings.”
The players who volunteer are greatly impacted by the students that they read to and enjoy recess with.
“Not only is the experience great for the kids, the experience is great for us as well. We’re role models to these kids. We really see how much these kids look up to us,” Randolph said.
Hall said, “It’s important to us because we quickly realize that we were once them. We were once the same kid going through the transition of life, so it’s relatable. It makes us appreciate them more.”
The second graders scream with excitement when the football players read to them.
Teachers sit back and observe as the kids interact with the players. The teachers get a chance to learn a lot from the experience as well, and they see how much the football players impact their students.
“The kids are always excited. They were disappointed over spring break when they didn’t see [the football players] for a few weeks. One of my students was extremely disappointed [that] he might miss their last visit,” said Heather Kuhn, a second grade teacher.