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January 16, 2014

All involved benefit from Athena basketball team’s volunteer efforts at Vista Elementary

CLAREMONT, Calif. – Many of us can easily recall individuals who inspired us as elementary school students, whether they knew it or not– people we met for an instant or heard speak, and then decided that, because of them, we wanted to stay in school, pursue a certain career or chase down a dream we didn't think possible.

That is the lasting impact that head coach Kristen Dowling and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team hope they had on students of the After School Community Education and Safety (ASES) program at Vista Del Valle Elementary School in Claremont during their visits to the school.

"We came here last year and volunteered and when we showed up this year for the first time, many of the students remembered the names of our players and would say 'hey, we remember you playing with us or teaching us last time you were here'," said head coach Kristen Dowling. "So we believe and hope that these visits are leaving an impression."

The team and its coaching staff spent two hours at the school on Wednesday, Jan. 15 before heading back to campus for an afternoon practice in preparation for Thursday's home game vs. Cal Lutheran. On Wednesday, the Athenas spent time in various classrooms, helping out with homework. When the team last visited Vista on Jan. 8, in addition to doing homework with the students, the Athenas put on a basketball clinic out on the blacktop for about an hour and played a variety of basketball-related games such as Knockout and tag.

While the elementary school students may remember these experiences with the Athenas, members of the basketball team are benefiting just as much, particularly the handful who are interested in becoming teachers. One of those players interested in becoming a teacher– particularly second or third grade –is senior guard Shelby Barthold, a psychology major at Claremont McKenna College.

"Everything I have done is to become a teacher or work with kids," said Barthold who believes being on a team has helped with that pursuit. "Being a part of a team has helped me because being a teammate, leader and motivator translates easily into teaching children."

With so many involved having benefited from this volunteer experience, Coach Dowling hopes to bring her teams back each year, if not more.

ASES is a state-run after school enrichment program that partners with the local community and is dedicated to helping kindergarten through ninth grade students in income-qualifying families learn life skills such as healthy eating, physical activity and the importance of an education.

CMS gets back to SCIAC play tonight with a home game vs. Cal Lutheran at 7:30 p.m. in Ducey Gymnasium.

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