BROWNSVILLE - Several student-athletes and coaches from the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College attended an assembly at El Jardin Elementary on Wednesday morning held at the school auditorium.
The visit was part of the Champions of Character initiative that the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics promotes for all their athletic programs.
The Champions of Character program capitalizes on the NAIA's reputation for top-flight athletics, superior academics and outstanding personal integrity of its athletes to promote character and sportsmanship through athletics.
The UTB/TSC athletes and coaches talked to the group of third, fourth, and fifth graders about the importance of staying in school, respecting their teachers, and the value of hard work.
The visit also served as a pep rally for the STAAR test; the school district's upcoming state-mandated exam taken later this month.
"The kids were very happy and now seem ready for the test. It really helps the students knowing that athletes and coaches give up their time to be here on our campus." Principal Myrta Ayala-Garza said.
Volleyball assistant coach Roberta Santos and junior volleyball player Ana Guerra, who are Brazilian born, also used some of their time to teach the children some simple phrases in their mother tongue of Portuguese as part of their message.
"I think visiting El Jardin was great. It was a good experience and hope I have made an impact in the life of young kids. I hope they were inspired and grow to become great students and hopefully athletes." Santos said.
Golf coach Anthony Lopez, men's soccer coach Dan Balaguero, and players Perry Goldsbury, Ricardo Diegues, and Gus Holmes also made the trip.
While addressing the crowd of students, coach Balaguero's had a clear message about the importance of school.
"Take care of your education now at this age so you won't have any problems when you get to college. Take care of your education first and foremost." he said.
UTB/TSC volleyball and soccer teams are currently in offseason training. The golf team plays in their next tournament on March 25th.