Though virtual in 2021, annual Education Day just as impactful
Creator: Josh Liddick, Lehigh Sports Communications
The Education Day game is a day that both the Lehigh women’s basketball team and the Bethlehem Area School District look forward to each year. For a little over a decade, Education Day has been the season’s most exciting home game, offering students the chance to experience Division I college basketball while learning.
In 2021, the pandemic changed many things, including this annual event. That year, the Education Day presented by Red Robin became virtual.
The aim of this year’s day, or rather the whole week, was to maintain relationships with the local elementary and middle schools, which usually attend the game at the Stabler Arena every year.
“When it was all canceled because there were fans in the stands and people at games, I thought Education Day was one of the things we were really sad about,” said head coach Sue Troyan. “We’ve been doing this for about 11 years now, and I think it’s a really important initiative to expose the Bethlehem Area School District to not just our program, but Lehigh University as a whole.
“We felt it was important to do this year, even though the kids couldn’t be here in person, that we stay busy with the schools where our girls could spend about 30 minutes with 12 schools talking and then to kids read I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people whose children were a part of it, who really appreciated us this year. “
Over the past week, members of the women’s basketball team have connected to classrooms in seven separate virtual sessions via Zoom. The sports students read a short story about basketball, did reading comprehension, and opened the discussion with questions and answers about the importance of school and sports.
“Education Day was still extremely rewarding this year. I wish we’d all seen the kids in person, but it was still so nice to connect with local kids through Zoom,” said older striker Mariah Sexe. “We got to meet with them to read a story and answer any questions they had about being a college student athlete. They were really excited to ask questions, which shows how important it is to us To be connected with the local community We are fortunate to be role models for these children and I hope we give them the confidence that they can do whatever they want to do. “
The week’s events were linked to the Mountain Hawks’ weekend games against Lafayette to encourage students to watch with their families.
“I think it’s great to still be able to interact with the Bethlehem community through an online education day,” said second wing, Frannie Hottinger. “The kids were excited, they asked great questions and it was really fun to see them smile.”
A worksheet showing Lehigh women’s basketball lessons in subjects such as math, geography and history has been sent to all principals at BASD Elementary School for students to participate in the week’s classwork / homework.
Participating classrooms had the opportunity to win a free lunch for their classroom from Red Robin Restaurants, the day’s title sponsor. Each student participating in Education Day also received a voucher from Red Robin.
The Education Day initiative as a whole in a normal year is always powerful, and it was something that principals and teachers like Courtney Wertman-Stambaugh, headmistress at Fountain Hill Elementary School, appreciate continuing it virtually in 2021.
“Fountain Hill values the opportunity to attend Education Day every year. Our students and staff always look forward to the event. Everyone was thrilled when we learned that Education Day would be happening this year … only virtually,” said Wertman- Stambaugh. “Traditions help us create a sense of comfort. Knowing the Education Day tradition would allow our students to feel encouraged and connected to Lehigh University amid a pandemic, but it also demonstrated Lehigh’s commitment to the BASD community.
“The willingness to continue giving students the opportunity to connect with players spoke volumes about what Lehigh University stands for and what character Lehigh student-athletes are.”
Lehigh Athletics and the Lehigh Women’s Basketball Program look forward to future education days when students can safely return to the Stabler Arena.