1/13/2012 4:22:00 PM Students welcome visit by tall friends
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Anthony Braunstein, a third grader at Holy Cross School, receives his basketball, newly signed by Riley Barker and other UP basketball players.
Children at Holy Cross School last week found out that University of Portland basketball players aren't all that different from grade school kids — except twice as tall.
Pilot basketball players — men and women — have been touring area grade schools to give messages about studying hard and working diligently to fulfill dreams of college sports.
The players advised students to respect their parents, teachers and teammates. "While they seem bigger than life on TV, the kids can see they are just regular guys," says Tami Magnett, a program specialist at the UP Health Center and also the CYO athletic director at nearby Holy Cross School. "The players have a lot of insight. They've been this age before."
The Pilots also visited Cathedral and Holy Redeemer schools during January. "I think they're professionals," said Anthony Braunstein, a Holy Cross third grader who at one point was lifted high by a UP player to dunk a ball.
"The players love this," said Pilot assistant coach Colin Pfaff, who accompanied the players on their tour. "It kind of reminds them of when they were this age."
The players genuinely enjoyed the visit with grade schoolers, playing shooting games and slapping high fives. It's a nice break from the world of academics, practice and weightlifting, they say.
"These guys have been working really hard to be good at school and good at basketball," Pfaff told the young students, his team standing behind him like a grove of redwoods. "If you want to be good at something, you have to work hard. It doesn't just happen."
The children asked how tall the players were and marveled at the frames of 6-foot-10. Even the smallest player wears a size 12 shoe, the youngsters discovered.