sBy Valerie Shelton, Editor
The more that you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. —Dr. Seuss
Each year around March 2, the birthday of renowned children’s author and the ruler of rhyme Dr. Seuss, schools throughout the nation celebrate Read Across America day.
This year, Clovis Unified’s Gettysburg Elementary had the birthday bash a little early, on Tuesday, March 1, welcoming Fresno State football players and their head coach Tim DeRuyter to campus to read to students.
Coach DeRuyter read to sixth grade students in Mr. Murphy’s class. After reading a Dr. Seuss classic, “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” he answered students’ questions. Students asked everything from what is your favorite book (he replied it’s The Bible) to what his favorite football team is (he diplomatically said he roots for his former players who’ve gone pro, like Derrick Carr, to succeed instead of rooting for a specific team).
DeRuyter made sure, though, that the message of Read Across America day—the importance of reading—shined through. Even the best football players, he said, benefit from being great readers.
“When we recruit players, we want to make sure number one that they are great students and reading is a huge part of that,” DeRuyter said to students. “Some of the guys who we have who sstruggle academically, probably the biggest driver of their struggle is not being great readers growing up, so we have to work with them. Some of them have learning disabilities and everyone has issues they need to attack, but we want someone who is well rounded, who does a great job reading, a great job in math and someone who actively wants to learn.
“We have a bunch of football players and they want to be the best on the football field but we want football players who want to be the best in the classroom as well and when we find those kind of guys, those are the guys we want to recruit.”
DeRuyter also encouraged students to not only read but to work hard even in the face of obstacles since the quality of perseverance is important in order to excel on the football field or in the classroom.
“A great word is perseverance,” DeRuyter said. “Many of our players growing up, they were the best one on the team in high school and every step along the way, what happens? The competition gets tougher and when you get here it is the best of the best, the top one or two percent of high school players in the country play division one college football. If you don’t have perseverance you are going to get knocked down sometimes but you have got to get back up. Everyone comes from tough situations, whether you have a tough family situation or whatever it is, the world doesn’t care on Saturdays, your opponent doesn’t care and you have to persevere through that and keep your goal in vision. It is not a sin to get knocked down, but it is a sin to stay down so you have to be able to get knocked down and get back up.”
DeRuyter said he was glad to take the time out of his day to spend reading to the students because he feels it is his responsibility to give back and be part of the community.
“We’re very fortunate as football coaches and football players,” DeRuyter said. “I’m blessed to be able to coach football for a living when other people have to work for a living. I get to coach football which is fun and our players, especially our scholarship players, get to play division one football and school is paid for them so they get a great gift and I have to remind my players that when you get a great gift, you have a responsibility to give back. That is why we have a dozen players here reading today
in the community because we appreciate being part of this community. We want to get out and we have the opportunity to do that.”