Athletes become ‘Pals’

Grade school can be crucial to a youth’s development, but luckily with a little advisement from college students, it can be less difficult.

The student-athlete adviser committee and the FAMU Elite cheerleading squad recently announced its first mentoring program, Rattler Pals.

The program allows students from elementary, middle and high schools to receive mentoring from athletes on various FAMU sports teams.

“This program will bridge the gap between athletes, administrators and the world around them,” said Abigail Mobley, coach of the FAMU Elite and organizer of the mentoring program.

As part of the program, each athlete volunteers to pair up with a child for the remainder of the school year. The mentors and their mentees will talk once a week and attend various activities together.

Mobley and Joe Thomas, the director of Walker Ford Community Center, have planned a series of events such as pizza parties, Christmas parties and basketball games for the students and their mentors.

A kick-off ceremony for the program took place Thursday in the Walker Ford Community Center. It began with greetings from Mobley, followed by the athletes and students meeting each other face-to-face.

“I think this program will benefit me very much,” said Derrell Johnson, a 17-year-old 10th grader at Rickards High School. “My mentor seems to be a good person and I am looking to learn a lot from him.”

Jackie Johnson, the mother of Derrell Johnson said sometimes all children need is someone to inspire them. “The athletes will be able to break through to these kids like parents cannot,” Johnson said.

Rattler Pals volunteers recognize the importance of the program and the effect it will have on the youth.

“Rattler Pals will help my 13-year-old mentee be more involved in the community and education,” said Ruby Nugent, a FAMU softball player. “I want to make sure that she is taking her education seriously.”

Rattler Pals hopes to set the precedent for other mentoring programs to get started in the community.

“This is a small start but we are anticipating this to be big,” Nugent said.

“Soon all athletes and the whole community will be involved.”