The Buena Vista University men's basketball team are winners in more than one way.
As student athletes, they won the Iowa Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA "Sweet 16" this season.
They are now proving their mettle as role models.
This week, volunteers from the team took part in a project organized by Dr. Melinda Coogan, Assistant Professor of Biology, which involved bringing in a group of eighth grade students to the university campus.
The young students are involved with Iowa State University's Educational Talent Search, a college preparatory program. The program serves students from sixth grade through 12th grade; when they are in eighth grade, they travel to a college (for the past several years it has been BVU).
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Many of the students come from families that have never sent anyone to college - the visit to the university makes the young people aware of what a college campus is like and exposes them to college students.
The basketball players, said Dr. Coogan, "are amazing kids. They are great students and great role models. They have been successful in sports and in the classroom and reaching their career goals."
The young students and the university students interacted in a science activity in which students simulated resource availability effects on animal population numbers (a glorified game of tag which was a good work out for all involved.)
The students then worked together to graph the results of the population study and discussed what the results indicated.
In addition, the basketball players had the chance to visit with the students about their athletic accomplishments and share their own personal career goals and college academic experiences. The basketball players also made time to take pictures with the students and give autographs. ("These will be worth a lot of money someday," a visiting student said of the autographs - bringing smiles to the BVU students.)
Basketball player Nathan Parker said he was more than happy to meet with the young students.
"They're nice kids. When I was their age, I looked up to older kids. It's nice that they're looking up to us."
Basketball players who helped in the project were Jon Millea, Jeffrey Bissen, Nathan Parker, Matt Cleveland, Sam Mosher, Kevin Osborn, Adam Linen, Adam Arndorfer and Brian Fogelman.