The Student News Site of State University of New York at Brockport

The Stylus

The Stylus

The Stylus

The next chapter


Before COVID-19 shut down the nation, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) visited inner city Rochester schools for community service every year. The school participated in what RIT called the “Giant Read.” 

The Giant Read, established in 2007, was formed by RIT to help engage collegiate student-athletes with students in the city of Rochester. For each institution that was involved, they had a corresponding Rochester city school. For as long as the program has been running, Brockport had been paired with Theodore Roosevelt School No. 43.  

Brockport librarian Jennifer Kegler has been working for the college just shy of two decades. She has seen the Giant Read develop into a very impactful program for the Rochester community. But, just as the athletes impact the kids, the kids impact the athletes.  

“We used to go to School 43, which believe it or not, was a much more rundown school than this year,” Kegler said. “They didn’t have running water. The students had to use hand sanitizer to wash their hands. It was very poverty stricken. We always thought it was a good outreach for our Brockport students because you get to see a different school system. If you’ve never been to an inner city school, it’s different than what you may have had if you went to school in the suburbs. It’s really good for the children to see these Brockport students. Sports are important, but then it’s really good to read too. That’s why we combine sports with athletes and reading.” 

The library is in charge of donating books and other supplies that benefit the children. In past years, finances were not necessarily a concern for funding the supplies for the trip. However, this year Kegler acknowledged that as the library ran out of grant money, the creation of the Friends of Drake Library (FODL) emerged. FODL is a group of donors who support Brockport’s Drake Library. This year, after hearing of the program’s restart, the group funded take home bags for the Rochester students. The bags were filled with books donated from the library, notebooks, pens, toothbrushes and toothpaste.  

Although Kegler was hesitant at first of how the day would go over, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Development Steve Pike assured her that everything would go according to plan.  

Part of her concerns came from this being the first time Brockport had worked with this particular school. In 2020, School 43 was closed due to the financial impacts of the pandemic. However, this year the student-athletes joined Helen Barrett Montgomery School 50 for what is now known as the READ program.  

Brockport traveled with 28 athletes representing a total of 15 teams. They joined first graders in their physical education classes and in the classroom. Sophomore men’s soccer player Malcolm Phillips found the experience to be gratifying and inspiring.  

“The program actually meant a lot to me,” Phillips said. “It’s one of those things where you didn’t expect to get as much out of it as you were going to when you initially started it. But, it was really nice to be able to put a smile on the kids’ faces.” 

Phillips not only enjoyed the experience, but he learned from it. Something he constantly keeps in the back of his head is self recognition. He values seeing where people less fortunate than him are coming from and meeting them there. 

“One of my major things is understanding where other people are at,” Phillips said. “Just to be able to provide for them, help them and do different things for them is always good. You have to understand who you are and who these kids are and where they’re coming from. You have to try and understand their situation and how they may live. If they have behavioral issues, maybe they’re seeking attention they don’t get at home. You have to meet them in the middle.” 

For many of the athletes, this experience is something that greatly impacted them. Pike received positive feedback from all of the athletes and even comments of wanting to go more frequently. Logistically and financially, Pike is unsure of how frequent the athletes can go, but he is certain it will be more than an once a year occasion.  

“One of the things the [SAAC] e-board (executive board) brought up is if the library is on board with doing another READ program in another school, getting the same stuff and going with the middle schoolers. They also brought up if doing it twice in a semester would have an impact,” Pike said. 

Pike received feedback that opened his eyes to just how impactful this was for the student-athletes. His plan is to meet with FODL to discuss how this impact can be regulated on a consistent basis.  

“From my perspective, as I’m in charge of it, I saw the impact it had on the students that day,” Pike said. “I saw the bus ride and the energy home. I want to see how we have more of a regular impact. If it’s going to a middle school or multiple schools, every other week, twice a month, what does that look like?” 

There is nothing but curiosity for the potential of the READ Program. If you are an athlete interested in joining the event next year, email [email protected] for more information on SAAC.  

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Stylus

Your donation will support the student journalists of State University of New York at Brockport. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Shannon Blankenship, Editor-in-Chief
Donate to The Stylus

Comments (0)

All The Stylus Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *