Friday, March 17, 2017

Liberty Student-Athletes Participate in Inaugural Hop on Pop Reading Day

Liberty student-athletes joined forces for the Inaugural Hop on Pop Reading Day at Yellow Branch Elementary School in Rustburg.
The event was held on Feb. 17 in memory of William Beitz, the father of Liberty Senior Associate Athletics Director – Academic Affairs Kristie Beitz. William "Bill" Beitz passed away on Nov. 28, 2016, from surgical complications.
Liberty student-athletes joined forces for the Inaugural Hop on Pop Reading Day at Yellow Branch Elementary School in Rustburg.
Beitz was born in Bronx, New York, and his escape from a rough upbringing was the public library. It was there that he developed his love for reading, escaping into a world of his own through the books he read.
In the epitaph at his funeral, the final sentence read, "In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Church of the Epiphany Columbarium Fund or donate a book to a local charity to encourage the love of reading to others."
 Liberty Women's Lacrosse Head Coach Kelly Nangle and assistant coach Nina Dunay attended the funeral and thought about how they could possibly get their team involved in collecting books and donating them to a local charity. Liberty student-athletes decided to begin a book collection in Beitz's honor.
Following winter break, Liberty's Academic Affairs for Athletics began encouraging all of the Liberty athletics teams to bring in books. Through a partnership with Yellow Branch Elementary School, Academic Affairs for Athletics set up a date and time to have Liberty student-athletes come deliver the books and read to Yellow Branch's students in memory of Bill Beitz.
All of the planning was done without Kristie Beitz's knowledge in an effort to surprise her. Two days prior to the event, Beitz was told about the plans and was overwhelmed with emotion.
"I was so excited and overwhelmed by the gesture from our student-athletes and coaches. It truly made my heart smile," Beitz said. "My dad was a humble man, always providing supporting quietly in the background while my mom was always in the spotlight. It makes me very happy to be able to celebrate him."
Liberty student-athletes donated over 420 books to the school and more than 60 student-athletes spent the afternoon reading to 540 kids. Each classroom also enjoyed popcorn while Liberty athletes read to them. The note on each bag of popcorn was a quote from Dr. Seuss that read, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
"It was a great experience because I never had this when I was young, people coming to read to us and just spend their time," said Liberty freshman men's soccer player Shalom Dutey. "There's things that people want in life sometimes, but I think the most important thing is just to give the kids time."
Flames junior football player David King read to a third grade class and also played dodgeball in P.E. class with the Yellow Branch students.
"I think we came because part of this is it's really fun to give back to little kids in the community. Growing up, it was a big thing to me to see older athletes come back and talk to us," the junior said.
After reading to the students, Liberty student-athletes signed a board to commemorate the day while also encouraging the students to continue reading.
Liberty freshman lacrosse player Hannah Quast participated in Hop on Pop Reading Day and shared her thoughts.
"I thought today was awesome, because I was able to give back to the community," Quast stated. "It was awesome how the kids knew about Liberty and about how they wanted to go there and play a sport in college."

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