MELBOURNE, Fla. (Men’s Basketball) – Florida Tech men’s basketball coach Billy Mims paid a visit to a group of third graders Tuesday at Ralph Williams Elementary School, and brought two of his players with him as part of a “Read to Succeed” initiative started by the men’s basketball program. At the sight of 6-4 forward Carl McNally and 7-7 center Paul Sturgess, the guest speakers immediately had the kids’ full attention.
“My major is communication, so I enjoy giving speeches, especially talking to kids,” said McNally. “I want to either be a coach or a teacher, so I really like motivating kids and spending time with them.”
Coach Mims spent a good portion of the hour talking about dreams, making the connection with a book that the third graders are reading entitled Allie’s Basketball Dream. He talked about the players’ dreams, about the dreams of some very famous players, like Michael Jordan, and talked about the fact that if you work very hard to make those dreams come true, they will.
The coach also spent time playing games with the kids, including ball handling drills, and asked many questions to test the group’s knowledge of basketball and other subjects. The gleeful bunch had several opportunities to win “prizes”, and many walked away with posters or t-shirts. All kids present were excited to know that they would at least be going home with a Panther fan signed by the coach and both players as a souvenir.
“We like to have an annual commitment to give back to the community,” Mims said. “The game of basketball has been great to our guys and by going into schools as positive role models, it gives our guys an opportunity to share their experience with local children. This program is part of our community initiative that we call ‘Read to Succeed’ where we visit local elementary schools to promote reading and the impact it will have on success in life.”
The kids had great examples present of where dreams can take you. As a local product, McNally connected with the kids by telling them of his playing days at Cocoa Beach H.S., where the star led his team to the State Championship. McNally was named the tournament MVP that year. The children even got to see his championship ring that he brought to show as something you can earn when you set out to achieve your dreams.
Sturgess, the tallest basketball player in the country, grew up in England playing golf and cricket. He didn’t even start playing basketball until high school, and it was his basketball dream that brought him to Florida to play at the college level. He shared with the kids that it is his dream to one day play in the NBA.
“It was fun to be there and talk with the kids,” said Sturgess. “They really listened well and I hope they realize that they can achieve their dreams just like us.”