Baseball team hits homerun with literacy program

Sophomore Trent Huffman reads with Cory Smith and Kassie Beemer at Riverview Middle School. Huffman, a recreation management major from Angola, Ind., pitches for the Foresters.
Huntington, Ind.—Reading has become more exciting in Huntington County elementary and middle schools. With the help of a new grant, Huntington University’s baseball team is tutoring students in reading skills once a week at 10 schools throughout the county.

Former HU baseball player Lance Chrisman, now a vice president for Verizon, initially contacted Forester head coach Mike Frame about getting the team involved with Verizon’s national literacy program. Founded in 1999, the Verizon Reads program has contributed millions of dollars toward literacy programs nationwide.

“Lance contacted me to see about our interest in being involved,” Frame said. “We applied for a grant through Verizon and were approved.”

Sophomore Thad Frame tutors children at Northwest Elementary School. Frame, a recreation management major from Huntington, Ind., plays shortstop for the Foresters. (Photo courtesy of the Herald Press)
Starting November 8, twenty-seven players began volunteering at Andrews, Roanoke, Lancaster, Flint Springs, Lincoln, Horace Mann, Northwest, and Salamonie elementary schools. They also tutor at Crestview, Riverview, and Salamonie middle schools. The grant money allows the team to donate $300 to each school for literacy related resources.

Each of the players has committed to tutoring one hour per week, working on reading skills with students in first through eighth grade. Frame hopes his players see the importance of reading skills and also have the opportunity to impact their community.

“Our kids are not high profile athletes that you see on TV, but they can be role models in the local community,” Frame said. “If a college baseball player has made a commitment to help students with their reading skills, it will hopefully reinforce the importance of reading skills to these students. Our hope is that we can build some bridges to possible greater involvement down the road.”

Forester players are excited about the opportunity to give back to the Huntington community.

“We are so blessed to be a part of a community that both supports the college and the baseball team,” said Josh Clark, a junior pitcher and English education major from Archbold, Ohio. “This is a great way to show our appreciation. This is also a great experience for me personally because it gives me more exposure to the classroom. I am looking forward to going every Friday, and just hanging out and reading to the students.”

Junior Levi Sell, an outfielder and pitcher for the Foresters, is excited about reading to students at Northwest Elementary, where he attended grade school.

“I have done this before, and I really think that the kids enjoy it,” said Sell, a computer science major from Huntington. “I enjoy seeing the smiles that we can put on kids’ faces.”

Northwest Elementary School Principal Jay Peters said his teachers are looking forward to seeing former students, such as Sell and sophomore shortstop Thad Frame, back in their classrooms.

“The teachers are excited about seeing them again and to see what fine young men they have grown to be,” Peters said. “We are excited about the positive role model they will be for our students. We have many students that need a ‘big brother’ image in their life, and I think this program will help fulfill that void for some of our kids. Plus, to be able to say that they were able to work with an HU baseball player is something special for them.”

Peters added that research shows an extra 20 minutes a day reading with a child will pay major dividends in getting kids to read. “I believe this program with Levi and Thad coming to Northwest on a regular basis will build a connection between them and our students and hopefully instill within our students the values of working hard and that doing your personal best will pay off,” Peters said. “We are looking forward to this positive partnership with HU.”

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Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and in 2004 was named one of the 50 best Christian places to work by Christianity Today magazine.  


Heather Barkley
Director of Communications
Joanne Green
Sports Information Director