May 23, 2006
SEATTLE - Eighty-four Washington football student-athletes will visit 12 area schools Thursday as part of the team's `Blitz the Sound' program, designed to provide an opportunity for Washington's student-athletes to share with area youth the importance of education and personal responsbility.
Activities for the student-athletes, who will visit one school each in groups of 5-10, will include discussing with students the importance of education and life skills development, as well as participating in reading and physical education classes. Some schools will also ask the student-athletes to speak at school-wide assemblies.
The list includes one school -- Emerson Elementary -- on the list of those to be closed by Seattle Public Schools in 2007-08, and another -- TOPS K-8, which is to be relocated. Associate Athletic Director Kim Durand, who oversees the UW's academic support, life skills and student leadership programs, says that the fact that so many of the schools are in historically underserved neighborhoods increases the potential impact for both the students, and the student-athletes.
"It certainly makes our effort more relevant," Durand says. "There are a lot of needy schools in Seattle, and I think that a lot of our players will be able to relate to the children in these schools, and to their situations. While we're hopeful that we have something we can offer, we feel that our young men will gain just as much from this experience as the children and schools that they visit."
The `Blitz the Sound' program is part of Washington's `Football Education Month,' a month-long series of activities and events designed by Durand and University of Washington head football coach Tyrone Willingham to inspire all-around development in the Huskies' student-athletes. Previous events have included an NFL speaker who addressed the team about the realities of professional football and the importance of education, as well as career development and life skills seminars.
"It is very important that the young men in our program are winners not only on the football field, but in the classroom and community as well," Willingham says. "There are many ways to define a winner -- an individual who works to inspire a child is as much a winner as the one who scores a touchdown in the Rose Bowl. At Washington, we're about creating winners in all of those areas, and that's what this program is designed to accomplish."
Media seeking a detailed list of school visits may contact Brian Beaky in the University of Washington Athletic Communications office at (206) 543-2331, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.