Special to the E-T

Tarleton Sports Information

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -

The Tarleton Texan men’s basketball team spent over an hour Thursday giving back to the Bartlesville community as a part of the championship week experience at the 2008 Lone Star Conference Championship Tournament.

The Texans split into two groups and went to Hoover and Wayside Elementary Schools as a part of the LSC community involvement program with the championships which corresponds with the NCAA Division II initiative.

“I wanted our student-athletes to understand how much little kids really look up to them, and I wanted our guys to really have an impact on their lives,” said Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman. “Kids today see college and professional athletes on television all the time, and we knew they were looking forward to meeting our guys. I thought our guys did a good job today interacting with those elementary children.”

Reisman talked to the fifth grade classes at HES about this being the most important times in the student’s lives to form what they were going to be in the future. The 20-year head coach also explained to the students what and where Tarleton was and the importance of being good kids so they would grow up to be good adults.

Sophomore forward Dan Eichel also talked to the students, stressing the importance of listening to teachers and staff members while at school, and appreciating what they do for the students at school.

“We went today to and saw their faces light up, and that really brought joy to me as well,” Eichel said.

Junior forward Marlin Cloudy the students on how important going to school and achieving good grades is to their future.

“How many of you chose to come to school today?” Cloudy asked. “Choose to want to come to school and start studying hard now. Learn as much as you can, get good grades and do everything you can to be a good student. School is important, not only now, but through junior high, high school and college.”

After they talked with the students, the Texans ran a few drills to show the fundamentals of the game as Reisman explained the basics of the drills.

The team then pulled several volunteers from the crowd and ran through some passing drills. And before the Texans left the building, Gamble and Eichel dunked a few balls on request from the students.

At one point at the second elementary school, Gamble knelt down on his knees, and he was still taller than several of the students. And you could tell through the ear-to-ear smile on the 6-foot-11 center he was having a wonderful time.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to go to the schools today,” Gamble said. “I know when I was a little kid, I always wanted someone tall to look up to and to use as a role model. I looked forward to going to the schools today because I knew our guys can be good role models. Just seeing the smiles on their faces was a great joy.”

A couple of miles away at Wayside Elementary, the other half of the Texans spoke about the same agenda. Senior Limar Wilson, sophomore Effran Bryant and junior Nic Cantrell talked after assistant Ronnie Hamilton opened the program.

The second set of Texans played with the children and even got a couple to do the famous “Superman” dance. During the physical education class in which the team spoke, the teacher invited the team to join the students in following movement CDs, sliding to the left, sliding to the right, tapping their feet and clapping their hands, among other things.

“I think interacting with them like we did made a connection,” Reisman said. “Students need the message to become stronger, and I think getting them out there on the floor and mingle with them is a great way to accomplish getting the point across while making a connection.”

Eichel believed the effort the Texans spent Thursday was time well spent.

“I believe this really brought us together as a team,” the Texan said. “Feeling like a family and working together is really important for us right now. With this tournament, and the national tournament coming up, this just gave us a chance to really come together and impact other people’s lives.”

Reisman agreed this wasn’t about the Texans and the game they play on a 90-foot rectangle.

“You have to do something besides the game of basketball, and I thought this opportunity helped us accomplish that,” Reisman said. “I always preach the game of life above basketball. There are other areas in which you can affect lives, and I hope we positively affected lives today.”