During the first game of the Columbia College volleyball team’s win over King College, a crowd of about 60 school children arrived from Eugene Field Elementary School to support the Cougars. Half sat in the bleachers and the other half sat on the floor, and all of them cheered and held up their hand-made signs on white sheets of paper colored in colored pencil and crayon whenever Columbia College scored. Many of them cheered with wide eyes, excited to be at a volleyball game, something some of the children were experiencing for the first time.
Kindergarten teacher Cindy Boyer said the children came to support the team because Columbia College and Eugene Field are partners in education. Boyer said Columbia College players help the children by hosting several different events including a field day later in the year where children will have the opportunity to learn how to play different sports from athletes as well as the Columbia College Reader program where college students come to Eugene Field and read to kindergarteners and first-graders.
“They host us in so many things, so we came down to support them,” Boyer said.
Sophomore outside hitter Jeanie Meyers participates in the Columbia College Reader program. Meyers is majoring in education and said she enjoys the program because she would like to work with
kindergarteners or first-graders when she graduates. Meyers said she goes to Eugene Field every week and picks out one book and lets the child she’s reading with pick another and then the two read them together and talk about them.
“We’ve read books about dragons, and we read some nonfiction books
too,” Meyers said. “For me it’s a really great experience because I’m here for an education degree, it’s great to work with them.”
Kenan Miller, a kindergartener at Eugene Field is one of the students Meyers reads with every week and cheered for her during the game, holding up a sign that said “Go Jeanie” in large bubble letters Miller had filled in with colored pencil. Miller said he had never been to a volleyball game before but he said he had fun and wanted to learn how to play.
Boyer said the children began preparing for the game on Tuesday when they made signs to hold up at the game and for the players to put in their dorm rooms. Coming to the game was a valuable experience because the children got to learn about volleyball and they were able to apply things in the game to their school lessons.
“There are numbers on their (players’) jerseys and on the scoreboard they’re looking at the numbers,” Boyer said. “It’s just a good experience to get out and see something that they may not have seen before, and to support these wonderful kids who come down and support us.”