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NCAA Runners a Hit at Pasadena Park Elementary
Play Video Georgia Regents runner Jaiden Brandt (left) and assistant coach Pardon Ndhlovu pose with students at Pasadena Park Elementary during Thursday's community engagement activities.
Georgia Regents runner Jaiden Brandt (left) and assistant coach Pardon Ndhlovu pose with students at Pasadena Park Elementary during Thursday's community engagement activities.

Friday, November 22, 2013

SPOKANE, Wash. – Students at Pasadena Park Elementary school in Spokane, Wash., burst out of their classrooms to one of their most unique recesses ever on Thursday afternoon. Joining the first-through-fifth graders were runners from 12 NCAA Division II cross country teams, who donated an afternoon of their time towards a community engagement activity prior to Saturday’s National Championship meet.

Upwards of 90 total student-athletes arrived at the local elementary school Thursday afternoon, and broke up into groups before heading to various classrooms. 

“Our goal with this project was to make sure each Pasadena Park classroom was covered by at least one team,” Great Northwest Athletic Conference assistant commissioner and community engagement coordinator Bridget Johnson-Tetteh commented. “We were very pleased with the turnout from the college student-athletes, as we were able to cover almost all of the classrooms.”

Student-athletes began by introducing themselves and explaining what it means to be an athlete at the collegiate level. “We answered questions about what it takes to be a good runner and be successful in school,” senior Alexandria Palm of Nova Southeastern University said. “We told them it’s important to work hard in school because that will carry over to working hard as an athlete.”

Pasadena Park students were given the opportunity to ask questions to the collegiate runners, before classes split up into smaller groups for various activities.

The men’s team from Georgia Regents University showed its classroom where it came from on maps, while other schools taught their classrooms their school cheers and handshakes. At the end of the classroom sessions, student-athletes from each college signed autographs for Pasadena Park students.

“The kids have been excited for this since last week,” fifth grade teacher Steve McMannis commented regarding the activities. “It’s cool to see them excited about running and college overall.”

After 30 minutes in classrooms, Pasadena Park students led their teams outdoors for a recess with the student athletes. Runners took their students on a lap around the Pasadena Park field, and displayed various exercises from stretching to warming up to cool-downs.

“I think the kids responded really well,” senior runner Bri Stevens of Wingate University commented on the activities. “A few of the students said they wanted to be us when they got older so that was pretty exciting.”

“Overall we feel the event was highly successful,” Johnson-Tetteh commented. “The Pasadena Park students seemed to have a great time and it was a great experience for the student-athletes as well.”

The student-athletes who participated in the community engagement activity will race for a Division II national title on Saturday morning at Plantes Ferry Course in Spokane. The women’s race begins at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time, with the men’s meet beginning at 11:30. Admission to the event is $5, and more information can be found in the related links section in this article.

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