DAVIS, Calif. - In addition to competing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, and earning its first victory at the Big Dance by defeating North Carolina Central in the First Four, UC Davis men’s basketball has been working hard inside the classroom, around Davis and throughout nearby communities all season long.
The UC Davis Community Resource Service Center bestowed the team’s latest outreach award by honoring the program’s commitment to community service for the third year in a row. By doing so, the CRSC helped men’s basketball become the first three-time Athletics honoree.
This team is known throughout Yolo, and Sacramento County for organizing numerous classroom visits, events, projects, holiday food and toy drive each year, but it is the team’s reading program that has become the model for others to emulate.
Designed to encourage local students to read as often as possible, more than 23,000 elementary-aged children from 35 schools (a new record) participated throughout the 2016-17 academic year.
Now in its fifth year of existence, this program mailed newsletters, motivational posters and a complimentary ticket to a home game — no matter which game students selected, everyone witnessed a UC Davis victory since the team posted its second undefeated home record in the last three seasons — to participating classrooms.
By partnering with local teachers, the Aggies rewarded students who were passionate about reading, demonstrated an outstanding work ethic and succeeded academically.
"Every student-athlete, staff member and coach feels that this reading program is a phenomenal way to collaborate with local teachers and connect with students," said head coach Jim Les. "The players embrace their position as a role model and reading advocate because they all had mentors who helped them succeed in the classroom.
"This is how they became students at the sixth-ranked public university in the nation."