Here’s evidence that children can learn from those who blaze the trail before them. A small gesture from a Sioux Falls Skyforce player pays dividends.

During a week of no games scheduled, some time was spent at Garfield Elementary School as members of the NBA D-League team had one-on-one reading sessions with students. Sue Mollison who is a volunteer who established Community Reading Partners told a story about how the players can make deep impressions.

“We had a student who was always resisting reading and math assignments. Telling his teacher that he didn’t need to do that (work). ‘I’m just going to go right into the NBA and I’m going to make millions.’ He was seated with Jabril Trawick who happened to really know how to handle that situation. The book was sitting in between them on the table unopened. I could see the player was talking sternly with him and could tell there was a good discussion going. Pretty soon the boy started reading.”

A bit later, Mollison got the details to find out how Trawick was able to reach the youngster.

“He just talked to him about reading being important. It’s pretty cool to see that interaction as the student sees this big guy who is successful is telling me I need to do my basic stuff at school.”

According to Mollison, quite often the students look at these players as heroes which can be a more effective springboard to success than a normal classroom setting. To add an additional element to the story, the aforementioned exchange took place a month ago.

“The student at the time was in a Tier Two classification,” said Mollison. To explain Tier Two, it meant that he was falling behind other students in classroom work and more personal instruction was needed.

A one-time encouragement did work wonders which was reinforced when Trawick reached out to his buddy on the second visit. Mollison was able to report good news because of one man’s caring gesture.

“One month later (the student) was out of Tier 2 and gaining ground to catch up with his peers. What a neat thing that this professional athlete remembered and wanted to reach out to him and check his progress.”

Additionally, Mollison believes a good number of the students at Garfield Elementary crave that opportunity to read with adults. It’s very likely that those situations are limited at home with parents working multiple jobs to survive.

Plans are coming together for the two to continue further communication during the off season. A bond formed because of a book.

It’s a harsh reality that a select few will be able to play basketball or any sport professionally. On the other hand, everyone has the ability to learn and to show care for others in their academic journey.

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