ACC Women's Lacrosse Student-Athletes Read the Way to Healthy Living For ACC Community Connections

April 20, 2012

DURHAM, N.C. ( – Immediately upon exiting the bus Friday morning, about 115 third-graders from Southwest (Durham) Elementary School faced a different sort of question as part of ACC Community Connections.

“How many of you have ever seen a women’s lacrosse game?” asked Shamaree Brown, the ACC’s Director of Student-Athlete Programs & Compliance. Perhaps half a dozen hands went up. That number would soon change about twentyfold, but the day was about far more than exposure to a strange game.

The students, selected because of their participation in Duke University’s Read With the Blue Devils program, sat attentively in four groups at Koskinen Stadium’s stands as a dozen student-athletes from four ACC institutions read them a book about the value of physical activity. Every few pages, they’d stop and interject facts about their sport, stories from their athletic and academic careers and facts about ACC lacrosse.

“This was an introduction not only to Duke University but to a new sport,” said Jaimee Camellas, one of the teachers along for the ride. “It was motivating.” It’s the sort of event that takes place at all 24 ACC championships – from baseball to wrestling, from Boston to Clemson. In all, more than 1,000 students from the host sites’ school districts and environs participate in a unique sort of educational experience each academic year. And that total doesn’t include the several thousand kids who attend the ACC women’s basketball tournament annually.

While it’s fine to learn from teachers and parents, a message from an active college athlete about the importance of daily exercise might have a special impact. “I think it’s a great cause: to help kids, get them motivated,” said Virginia Tech attacker Julia Heaps, a sophomore from Maryland who scored twice in the Hokies’ recent win over High Point. “Hopefully, it will help them work harder in school and become a Division I athlete one day.”

Friday’s kids seem to be headed in the proper direction. Their trip here began months ago when several student-athletes from Duke showed up in class for the first of several reading sessions. Students who demonstrated they had read at least 20 minutes a day over two months qualified for Friday’s field trip.

Parents hoped the sessions with the players could serve as an antidote to modern deterrents to daily exercise. “So many electronic distractions,” said Yuet Berry, whose daughter Sara Berry was honored as the top reader in her class. But this time, PSP2 struck out.