NIC wrestlers distribute 3,000th book through reading program

The North Idaho College wrestling program distributed its 3,000th book to a group of first-graders at Winton Elementary School Nov. 1 through the Shirley Parker Reading Program.
The reading program was established in 2000 by the NIC wrestling program in partnership with local auto dealership Parker Toyota in honor of owner Doug Parker’s late wife Shirley, a community supporter and NIC wrestling fan.
The program was designed as a community service project that brings NIC’s champion wrestling team into first-grade classrooms throughout the Coeur d’Alene School District as mentors to promote reading.
The wrestling team holds a fundraiser at the end of its preseason to support the program. The players collect pledges toward their completion of a mountain climb in Hope, Idaho, typically raising approximately $1,000 that goes toward the purchase of books for every first-grader in the Coeur d’Alene School District.
Each week during the season, NIC wrestlers and coaches visit a local elementary school to read to the first-graders. The children are encouraged to take their book home to continue practicing their reading skills in addition to receiving a bookmark and poster of the wrestling team.
“It’s important that the program doesn’t stop when we walk out the door,” Whitcomb said. “We want them to continue the reading experience.”
The wrestlers always make time to visit with the kids after reading and have even signed a few autographs on the kids’ books or on the wrestling team’s posters or programs. The wrestlers play with the children during recess after the reading session to not only bond with the children, but to encourage fitness as well.
Last year the Shirley Parker Reading Program benefited nearly 700 students, including all first-graders from the Coeur d’Alene School District’s 10 elementary schools.
Ranging from 125 to 280 pounds and toting 13 National Junior College Athletics Association championships, the NIC wrestlers have somewhat of a celebrity status with the kids as soon as they walk in the door.
“It’s priceless to see these big guys sitting in those little chairs in front of a floor full of kids, really connecting with them,” Whitcomb said. “I truly believe they are making a difference in the lives of these kids."

For More Information
NIC Head Wrestling Coach Pat Whitcomb, (208) 769-7870

Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005

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