Men’s Basketball Visits Six Local Elementary Schools to Interact with Students

HAMDEN, Conn. – It was a rewarding three weeks for the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team as the Bobcats completed a series of elementary school visits around the area in conjunction with Quinnipiac's Positive Play Initiative. Members of the team took time away from their studies and practice sessions to swing by several schools nearby.

"We appreciate the players volunteering their time to meet and interact with the students in the Hamden, Meriden and Ansonia public school districts," said Matt Calcagni, who plays a large role in the community outreach program at Quinnipiac. "We want to reinforce that learning is an everyday habit. In order to become better on the court or in the class room, there is a great deal of work ethic that goes into it. This is a great time of year to encourage and remind elementary students that what they do over the summer has a major effect on their success. We are happy and look forward to strengthening our relationship with the schools in our community."


The program began on Friday, May 31st when juniors Justin Harris (Paterson, N.J.) and T'ziah Wood-Smith (Baldwin, N.Y.) took a trip to Prendergast Elementary School to speak with students in Ansonia. The next visit was to Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden on Friday, June 7th, where sophomore James Ford, Jr. (Hopewell, Va.), senior Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) and junior Emanuel Binyam (Rockville, Md.) spoke about the importance of completing summer reading assignments.

On Wednesday, June 12th, Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) and Harris made a trip across town to Helen Street School. This particular outing involved a brief class reading assignment and then a question and answer session with the student-athletes.

"It's always fun to take a trip over to Helen Street to meet with the kindergartners," said Azotam, who will enter his final season in a Bobcat uniform this coming year. "It's so gratifying to see how much the students enjoy our company."

The last visit was to three different elementary schools in Meriden - Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale and Hanover - on Friday, June 14th. Juniors Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.), Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) and Marquis Barnett (Bronx, N.Y.) and sophomore Kendrick Ray (Middletown, N.Y.) traveled to each of the schools to discuss the significance of education and going to college.

"I think it's always good to give back and make visits like this," said Conti. "It's fun to see how much the kids look up to us. I really think it makes a difference. Hopefully, they can take a trip to the TD Bank Sports Center and see us play this year."

Quinnipiac Athletics' Positive Play initiative is designed to encourage student-athlete involvement in the community. Quinnipiac is dedicated to the promotion and development of service, service learning, experiential learning, and civic engagement programs and initiatives that involve students in the local community and challenge them to critically examine the role their service plays in cultivating personal development and social change.

Please refer to the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics,, for the latest news and events pertaining to the men's basketball program. When finalized, the 2013-14 Men's Basketball Schedule will be available for download at for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.