By Montana Sports Information
Members of the Montana men’s basketball team helped make the holidays a little brighter for kids in Missoula on Monday afternoon, spending time away from the court to mentor the students at C.S. Porter Middle School.
With their final exams complete, Grizzlies Fabijan Krslovic, Jamar Akoh, Trever Spoja and Michael Oguine, along with assistant coach Rachi Wortham, shared their wisdom and stories of basketball, school, and the life of a student-athlete with C.S. Porter’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
The Griz talked with the youngsters during their lunch period before taking to the playground to have some fun in the snow.
“We’re blessed with the opportunity to give back to the community. It’s good to get out here and just hang with them, show them a good time, and just them know that we care about them,” said Akoh, a junior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who is redshirting this season.
“I was a kid once, and whenever you see someone that you kind of want to be like it’s exciting to hang out with them, and see how good of a person they are.”
For the administration at C.S. Porter, having the Griz stop by and spend time with the kids helps broaden their student’s perspective, and helps let them know there is a big world outside the Missoula valley that is there waiting for them.
“It’s good to see some of our students at the University doing this stuff and making a connection to the community,” said Assistant Principal Ty Solberg.
“We’ve got a guy from Australia here, we’ve got guys from California, and the kids are getting to experience stuff that is outside Missoula, Montana, so it’s good for growth.”
The Montana coaching staff and administration at C.S. Porter arranged the mentor session as a holiday surprise for the students, who weren’t aware they were going to get to spend the afternoon with Grizzlies when they went walking into the cafeteria.
“It’s pretty cool. They just showed up; we didn’t even expect it,” said Porter student Dylan Rollins.
“They’re great role models, and it’s cool to have them around and get to know them, then getting to see them go out there and play and do their thing is awesome.”
Over the past semester, University of Montana student-athletes spent over 1,649 combined hours volunteering in and around Missoula as part of the “Griz Life” program for student-athlete development. That breaks down to an average of over five and a half hours per-student-athlete in the fall semester alone.
The Griz return to the court on Thursday, Dec. 22, when Pepperdine comes to Dahlberg Arena for the final nonconference game of the season.