Student-Athletes Participate in CARDS PLAY

Oct. 18, 2013

University of Louisville student-athletes recently completed year two of CARDS PLAY - the program the Cardinal Athletic Department formed through a partnership with Kick-off for Kids, an organization started by former Cardinal and a five-year NFL veteran, Amobi Okoye.

The Cards Play program is modeled after the NFL Play 60 program which was created to help close the achievement gap in the inner city schools, while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle at the same time.

The premise behind the program is to reward students who met certain attendance, behavioral and academic goals throughout the year with the reward of interacting with our U of L student-athletes. Students who are doing exceptionally well in the classroom also get the opportunity to attend a UofL Football and women's basketball game during the year. The goals were created to be both attainable for all and yet challenging at the same time.

"We stand strong in trying to stick to our mission statement to try to promote academics through athletics," said Okoye. "The Cards had an amazing year last year in all sports. Football winning the Sugar Bowl, national championship in basketball, runner-up in women's basketball, and a trip to the College World Series in baseball. If having the opportunity to interact with these type of stars doesn't excite kids to do well in school, I don't know what will."

CARDS PLAY (Character Attitude Respect Determination Success - Positive Learning All Year) completed its first year by introducing the program to Olmsted Academy North and Okolona Elementary, and this past year added King Elementary and Foster Traditional Academy.

Last week the Cardinals completed the last of their visits to the four schools in five weeks with a trip to Foster Traditional Academy. Nearly 600 kids participated in activities with UofL student-athletes including: cone drills, relay races, speed and agility ladders and a dynamic stretching drill. Football Director of Community Relations and Career Development Larry Slade also spoke about the importance of school, staying away from drugs, respect and bettering yourself in life by goal setting.

Members of the 2013 Sugar Bowl Champion team and 2013 National Champion basketball team have been in attendance at many of the Cards Play events this past semester.

"It's cool to go out in the community and have kids look up to you as a role model. We try to show them that through hard work anything is possible," noted Terry Rozier, a freshman on the men's basketball team.

Not only is the CARDS PLAY program rewarding to the kids for the positive reinforcement for their achievements, but it is also just as rewarding for UofL's student athletes to know that they are role models and having an impact on the community.

"Being a student-athlete it is important to be a role model in all aspects in and out of the classroom. By taking part in community service we have the opportunity to inform the youth on crucial information to help them succeed and develop goals to achieve," said sophomore cheerleader Alyssa Van Buren.

CARDS PLAY will resume during the spring semester. Those who have received exemplary marks will be invited to join the Cards Play staff and athletes in attending the Louisville Football game vs. Memphis on Saturday, Nov. 23.