Butler Athletics Reading Program



"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

- John Quincy Adams

For the second consecutive year, the Bookin’ with the Bulldogs reading program gave Butler University Athletic Department staff members and student-athletes a chance to develop their leadership skills and serve their community. Throughout the 2011 school year, reading teams visited local schools to read to students, answer questions and discuss topics such as what life is really like as a student-athlete. Reading teams were comprised of a Butler athletics staff member and a student-athlete who had not previously met. This exercise in teamwork was successful once again in 2011 in helping to build community within the athletic department while allowing participants to develop an understanding of their role as a servant leader within the Butler community. 

The students enjoyed their visitors from Butler and the reading teams always returned with wonderful stories to share about their visits. Below are some reflections from teachers, elementary school students, Butler University Athletic Department staff members and Butler student-athletes about their experiences with this program.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this program and made it a success in 2011. It is our hope that as an athletic department we can do our part to inspire the next generation through reading.

Matt Harris ‘02
Butler University Athletics
Manager of Fan Development 


"It was a neat experience interacting with our student athletes away from school and seeing them adapt to new environments." 

Carl Heck '05
Assistant Athletic Director - Facilities & Events


"I really enjoyed my experience reading to a kindergarten class. Getting the chance to have a positive impact in the lives of children is such a rewarding experience. Also, this valuable opportunity allowed me to represent not only Butler University, but the football team as a student-athlete that is connected to his community. Our head football coach, Jeff Voris, always talks about having three tools: being a student dedicated to earning a meaningful degree, being an athlete that contributes to his team and being someone that is involved and gives back to the community. These types of experiences like reading in kindergarten classrooms really allow people in the community to really see what being a Butler student-athlete is all about."

Stuart Harvey '12
 Butler University Football 


"I enjoyed the time I spent with Butler student-athletes, reading books to the elementary school children. You can tell the kids look up to the student-athletes and it’s a reminder to the student-athletes that they need to be positive role models." 

Steve Farley
Butler University Head Baseball Coach


I wanted to say we LOVED our readers that came to us at Reagan Elementary in Brownsburg last week!! They were both so inspirational and motivating for our students. We enjoyed listening to great stories and wonderful words of advice from your women's soccer coach Tari St. John and basketball player Ron Nored. We could not have had a better experience and the students were so excited. I received several emails from my parents as their children went home so excited about this opportunity. The children wrote thank you notes and we will be sending those to Butler. There were many girls that were so excited to hear the words of wisdom form Coach St. John and of course, everyone loved Ron. What lucky students to have Ron as their student teacher next year!! He was so poised, well spoken and exciting to listen to and will make an awesome teacher and leader. We were very impressed! Thank you so much for allowing schools to participate in this great program.

Thank you,
Michelle Orr – Reagan Elementary


Thank you to Nick Tabacca and Billy Bork for coming to visit with our kindergarten class at Grassy Creek Elementary!  The students really enjoyed listening to stories from our special guests.  With a class full of boys this year, it was a special treat to have a college football coach and player talk to us about football and read to our class. 

Thanks again for this wonderful experience! 

Miss Jennifer Harris - Grassy Creek Elementary School


"Matt Howard and I had a wonderful opportunity to read to a kindergarten class this past winter. Matt brought a little bit more “star power” than myself, but that was to be expected. It was truly enjoyable to interact with these young children. I had the honor of reading “Three Little Pigs” and Matt read a book on dinosaurs. As a former high school biology teacher, I had forgotten what a joy it was to see little kids faces light up as you read to them. The interaction between the kids and Matt was priceless. Matt is just a big kid himself. We followed the reading session with Matt and the kids going to the gym and shooting some hoops and riding bikes. All in all, I would recommend this activity to anyone who enjoys kids."

Scott Hall
  Butler University Head Softball Coach


"I had a fun time with the reading experience. Even though I did not read (went with a football player, Stuart Harvey; the kids were so excited to have him read) the experience was enjoyable. The kids were all “in Stuart’s face” so that was kind of funny. To see the look on the kids' faces when he was reading, the questions that they asked of both of us and then how they proceeded to explain their “pond” to us; “out of the mouth of babes”!

Would love to do it again."

Karen Poirier
Administrative Assistant - Butler University Athletics


"I was given the opportunity to read to a classroom full of energetic, excited kids at an elementary school about 20 minutes away from Butler. The school gave us a warm welcome and we were able to interact and read about four books with them. It was a great experience to spend time with them and see them excited about learning. Bookin' with the Bulldogs is a great program that Butler has offered and definitely should continue to be offered."

Brittany A. Bowen '11
Butler University Women's Basketball


"It is always a treat to have other adults visit the classroom to read to the children. We were lucky to have softball coach Scott Hall and student-athlete Matt Howard visit with our preschool children.  They immediately connected with the class and set a good example for kindness, enthusiasm and a love for reading books. The icing on the cake was going to the gym and shooting baskets with Matt which just happened to be right before the Bulldogs had their awesome run in the final games!  After that, the boys and girls were excited to tell me whenever they saw Matt Howard on TV or in the newspaper because they felt a connection with him. Scott and Matt were great role models for the children and they provided a message about the importance of being a life long learner/reader!"

Mrs. Kim Bruner
Preschool Teacher - The Warren Early Childhood Center


"Once again, listening to a college student read a story to my second graders was a rewarding experience. I enjoyed sitting in the back of the room and observing how interested my second graders were in the story. I loved watching their facial expressions during the story. When I am reading to them, I miss out on these fun things."

Beth Dettmer
Pleasant View Elementary in Zionsville


"I really enjoyed going and reading to the Warren Early Childhood Center with Coach Hall. The kids seemed very happy to have visitors and were engaged into the stories. It was fun to hear what they were currently working on and spend some time at recess with them. It was also a great way to get to know one of the coaches at Butler that I wouldn't get the opportunity to otherwise. Coach Hall's ability to interact with the kids made the process smooth and kept the kids focused on what we were talking about. I would encourage other student-athletes to participate in these future events."

Matt Howard '11
Butler University Men's Basketball

"I had a great experience with the students in Brownsburg. The students were very excited and seemed to have a great grasp on the books we were reading as well as Butler athletics. They asked phenomenal questions that made myself and Coach Tari St. John have to think a little bit. We left the school happier than when we came."

Ronald Nored '12
Butler University Men's Basketball 


"I enjoyed this experience. This is the second year that I have participated in the "Bookin' with the Bulldogs" program and both times I have come away with a smile across my face. This year, I traveled with Coach Nick Tabacca, offensive line coach for our football team, to Glassy Creek Elementary School. Once inside the school, we made our way to our assigned classroom and gave a quick glance inside the window on the classroom door. One look into the room revealed the hustle and bustle of an active elementary school classroom and we knew we were in the right place.

After a few quick knocks on the door, we were ushered in by the waving arm of the teacher. Upon entering the room, Coach Tabacca and I were greeted by the eager faces of about 30 young readers studying our every move. After a quick introduction, it was time to read. In short order, the students were seated on their individual carpet mats in the reading corner of the classroom. I was up first to read and began with a book that featured animals. Perhaps my favorite aspect of these readings is that I can take some liberties with the stories and embellish the details a little bit all the while putting voices to the characters which the kids seem to enjoy almost as much as I do. The students were really into the story but often interjected when something that I read was relevant to their own lives. After I had finished, Coach Tabacca was up and was such a success that the kids wanted him to read a second book to them, as long as their teacher allowed of course! After both Coach Tabacca and I had finished up, a flood of questions about Butler and football came forth. I tried my best to respond to the overwhelming amount of little palms that were raised up, waving to get my attention. Just as we were set to exit the classroom, I left the students with this...

(Me): Can you promise me one thing?

(Students in chorus): Yes! What is it?

(Me): Tell your parents to take you to a Butler Football game!!!"

William N. Aaron Bork '12
Butler University Football

"This year I had the privilege of going to a grade school reading with basketball player Ronald Nored.  It was amazing to see the influence Ron had on the children as a student-athlete and it warmed my heart to see how responsible he was with that influence."

Tari St. John
Women’s Soccer Head Coach - Butler University


"The kids were excited and engaged during the time the coach and athletes were in the room.  I think this is a great way to get the community involved and for kids to see that people in sports can get excited about reading." 

Lisa Ellery – Harrison Hill School of Inquiry


"Students in my class loved having the Butler readers in the class. We were learning about careers the week that they came in, so the students got to ask them really great questions about their careers. They also inspired a bunch of my students to become Butler Bulldogs in the future. Thanks for coming in!"

Carolyn Schweinfurth '11
Butler University Student - Early Middle Childhood Education and Spanish


"I enjoyed my time reading at Stonybrook Intermediate Academy with swimming student-athlete Rosalie Fidanze. It was nice getting to know a new person a little bit better. I felt, through our reading, we were able to bring a small bit of joy into the kids’ days. Everyone was very nice and I would recommend to my co-workers to participate in a school reading."

Josh Rattray '06
Assistant SID - Butler University Athletics