HARRISONBURG, Va. - The James Madison University women's basketball team hosted Hofstra in front of a packed house of local elementary school students and their families as part of Duke Dog Reading Day on Jan. 27 in the Convocation Center.
The children in attendance, as a part of a season-high crowd of 2,821, earned their admission to the game through participating in the Duke Dog Reading Program, a program that encourages students to read at local city and county schools.
Each student that reaches their goal is given a complimentary game ticket. They also get to meet the JMU athletes when they visit the local schools to read and interact with the children.
"It really personalizes the players as just another person. They get to say Nikki Newman is just like me and came to read at my school," said women's basketball Director of Operations Tim Clark.
In addition to the students individually receiving complimentary game tickets, any classroom that meets their assigned reading goal receives a signed women's basketball team poster.
"It's great to go out and play in front of the younger kids who look up to us. It means so much to them and it's a great feeling to be a figure they look up to as a role model," said junior guard Kirby Burkholder.
The women's basketball team will host another Duke Dog Reading Day against George Mason on March 3 at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.