UConn Basketball Coach and Players Visit Naylor School
Fifth graders at Dr. James H. Naylor/CCSU Leadership Academy were especially excited to be in school on Monday, December 16. They had been anticipating special visitors all weekend. For the second year, Naylor students, staff, and administrators welcomed the UConn Huskies for the Coach Hurley/UConn basketball day at the school.
After the players arrived by bus at 9:00 am, they split up to visit three fifth-grade classrooms. In each class, they engaged in a different activity with students who rotated every half hour. In one room, students asked the players questions typed on a large Bingo card to learn more about them. The players could answer yes or no to whether they had a sibling, played more than one sport, or liked to dance, for example. “I’m excited to meet players and do activities with them, get to know them,” said Alexa. Another fifth grader, Dzemana, said she was surprised to learn the players had done other sports before basketball.
In another classroom, the players sat with groups of students to draw designs of either a basketball logo, jersey or sneaker. In the third room, they wrote cards offering their thanks to servicemen and women around the world as part of “Operation Gratitude”. Using stickers, markers and colored paper, they crafted Happy New Year messages to men and women in the Armed Forces.
The event was as much about inspiring students to think about their futures as it was a fun interactive day. “It makes such an impression on them,” said 5th grade teacher Beth Bashir about the event. The students “get a chance to talk to the players and find out about college and what they have to do to get there.”
After the third activity concluded, students, players, coaches, teachers and volunteers headed to the auditorium for a pizza party lunch and to listen to remarks from school administrators and Coach Hurley.
Principal Monica Quinones thanked everyone for coming and Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez came to the podium to introduce Hurley. Wearing purple, the Naylor school uniform color, the Superintendent expressed affection for UConn, her alma mater. She also gave thanks to the principal, staff, and school partner, the Hartford law firm RisCassi & Davis, which supported the event. She talked about how the day was an excellent example of what it means to “ShoulderUp” in support of our students.
In his remarks, Coach Hurley called the event one of the highlights of the team’s year. He gave a round of thanks and expressed appreciation for the ongoing relationship with Naylor. He mentioned how the players all went to schools similar to Naylor and had people to inspire them when they were young; he hoped the UConn players would do the same for Naylor students. He emphasized coming to school every day, and learning and growing, as a mindset. “Read, feed your mind, every day – that’s a key to success,” he said.
Hurley took a moment to also talk about behavior, and how students should treat each other with kindness. He ended by pointing to a large array of wrapped holiday presents that were handed out to students, and offered tickets to an upcoming game to all the students in the room.