BROOKLYN, MS (WDAM) - The Pearl River Community College baseball team read to students at South Forrest Attendance Center Thursday as part of the school's drug-free week.
"This is one of the things that we preach in our program," said Michael Avalon, PRCC head baseball coach. "Community and service, so this is a great way for our guys to get out and give something back. One of the big things it also does for them is they learn from it as much as the kids do, and they understand that they're role models. Young eyes are looking up at them and watching what they do, so this is a good way for them to come in and be a good, positive influence on these young people's lives."
The players visited several elementary school classrooms reading to students from kindergarten through third grade.
"Being a junior college baseball player, they think you're playing in the big leagues," said Noah Nicaud, second baseman. "Their faces light up when you say the simplest things, and it's good feeling when they start laughing and stuff like that about your stories."
The visit coincided with the school's drug-free red ribbon week, and Avalon said it's good to see his players emphasizing the importance of academics and good decision making to younger students.
"We've been through the whole elementary school red ribbon week, the whole process ourselves," Nicaud said. "Coming back to it, you don't really remember being that little, but now you're the world to those kids. It's cool."
Avalon said, "In athletics today, especially in baseball, it's very important their academics are strong because it helps them get to the level they want to - college, Division I, Division II - wherever they end up after junior college. It's very important that their academics are high because it helps them with scholarships and things like that moving forward. That's something they can talk to these young kids about, and that's one of the first things we look for when we go to recruit a player. How are are they in the classroom? How are they grade-wise? Are they going to take care of all the little things that they need to? It's good to hear them tell these young kids that because they're listening to us."
This is Avalon's first season as head coach, and he said it's exciting to be implementing this kind of community service into his program early on.
"This area has been awesome," Avalon said. "They're big supporters of our baseball program and our college, so we want to support our community. We want to go out an help make an influence there in a positive way. We want kids that want to go to Pearl River Community College, and we want them to want to play at Pearl River. This is just another way for us to get out and spread the word that Pearl River's a good place to be."