Machine players Greg Bice and Matt Cafarelli visited Cheshire Elementary School in Delaware, Ohio to help kick off the school’s Reading Robots Winter Reading Challenge.
The competition encourages students to continue reading outside of the classroom by logging the amount of minutes they read over a five-week period for a chance to win prizes. Cheshire planned a school-wide assembly to help start the competition positively by inviting Machine players to partake in their activities.
Justin Syroka, the principal of Cheshire Elementary, said that the appearances of both Bice and Cafarelli were a complete surprise to the kids. The Machine players and faculty members participated in a flash mob during the assembly to showcase their best robot dance moves and talk about the importance of the relationship between reading and being a professional athlete. Bice pushed the significance of how practicing affects both reading and lacrosse skills.
“You just got to put the time in to practice,” said Bice. “I practiced and practiced and practiced lacrosse when I was at home and at on the field. Now I’m a professional athlete. You can do the same with your reading.”
Bice and Cafarelli also led the entire school in a “reading robots” chant, which some of the students said was their favorite part of the entire day. Then, the players picked four teachers’ names out of a hat to determine the classrooms in which they would visit and read books.
Jody Biggins, a third grade teacher at Cheshire, was one of the lucky teachers to get picked from the hat. Matt Cafarelli came to her classroom to read her students a book called, Interrupting Chicken.
“Matt taught the kids a nice lesson about the importance of reading,” said Biggins. “The story was about interrupting and he told them how interrupting was an important thing to know as a coach and as a student for the kids.”
Once Cafarelli ended each of his books, he engaged with the students by asking them what the main point of each story was. The students all jumped up to raise their hands and answer making Cafarelli excited about kids’ enthusiasm over reading.
The day ended with autographs, pictures and a mini lesson on how to use a lacrosse stick. Some of the children were actually able to try throwing a ball using the stick and play with Bice and Cafarelli. Principal Syroka said that the kids were thoroughly excited about seeing Bice and Cafarelli because of the team’s presence in Delaware.
“We want to do anything we can to support professional lacrosse as a school in Delaware,” said Principal Syroka. “Any chance the kids get to see a professional athlete they may have seen play before gets them excited. We’d love to have a partnership with the Machine doing tutoring, season kickoffs, more readings, raffles and other events.”
Both Bice and Cafarelli thought it was amazing that the school put forth an initiative to promote reading. The kids look up to the players as athletes and role models in their community and had promised they would never lose the Machine players’ autographs they received.