Different Playbook: THS football players help primary youth read

May. 19, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Eyes were fully fixed on a group of young men walking the halls Thursday morning at Thomasville Primary School.
Wearing red colored jerseys with white lettering and black trim, members of the Thomasville High School football team took time out of their regular schedule to spend a few moments with students at TPS. Smiles and whispers circulated throughout classrooms as players sat down with individual students to work on reading.
Head coach Wes Mattera introduced the idea to Thomasville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin, while interviewing for the vacant coaching position.
“It makes our guys feel good and lets our guys know where they came from,” said Mattera. “A lot of them came up through this system and they need to give something back. This system is what ultimately has helped them achieve their goals and to hopefully go to a four-year school or trade school, or wherever they want to go.”
Evan Makupson joined teammate Akeem Davis in Mrs. Spencer's second grade class for the morning. It was an experience Makupson was proud to be a part of.
“I like what we are doing here. We want to help these kids and it is something I would like to do more often. When I was growing up I did not have something like this where people would come see us. It is nice for these kids to get this opportunity and be able to see us.”
Mattera came to THS, knowing all about the rich tradition and following the football program has had for decades. But with numbers in the stands declining in recent years, he saw a real need to get the community excited about Thomasville football again. Reaching out to the community is a way the former coach at Edenton Holmes High School hopes will get the home side at Cushwa Stadium filled once more.
“I have told them numerous times, if the community is going to buy into us then we have to buy into them,” Mattera said. “We have to show them that we are willing to go out and give our time first. I think it is something that will really help us.”
Mattera hopes to continue going into local schools on a weekly basis to assist in whatever capacity they are needed. Plans are already in the works to visit Liberty Drive Elementary and Thomasville Middle School.
“If we can help take some stress off a teacher where she could take some one-on-one time with another student, then we want to help,” said Mattera.

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or kepley@tvilletimes.com.