A group of Colonel athletes sign autographs for middle school students at Manchester Regional Campus during the “Colonels for Education” event on Oct. 19. Student athletes and coaches spoke to the middle school students about persistence, determination and education. (Courtesy of ekusports.com)

By Chris McGee

Successful colleges, like successful businesses, invest in the future.

Eastern made a deposit on its investment with the second annual “Colonels For Education” that took place Oct. 19 at the Manchester Regional Campus.

The event, which featured student athletes and coaches, was hosted by the Educational Extension Agency and the Manchester Regional Campus.

Terry Wilson, an Educational Extension Agents coordinator, said the theme of the event was to stress the importance of persistence, determination and education to middle school students.

“In the past, we’ve waited until high school to start stressing the importance of good grades and hard work, but we’ve found it more beneficial to start in middle school,” Wilson said.

He also said stressing the importance of good grades to students in middle school translates into better high school test scores.

More than 400 students from Leslie County Middle, Clay County Middle and Redbud Mission Schools participated in the event.

 Among the participating coaches were Kara Kovert, Eastern’s director of Sports Marketing; Cherie White, assistant women’s basketball coach and Austin Newton, assistant men’s basketball coach.

The event was the first for Newton, but the influence a coach can have on a young mind was not lost on him.

“It’s always good for someone like me, who attended EKU, to share their experience with middle school students and tell them about all the hard work and good grades that it takes to get here,” Newton said.

Newton said after the athletes and coaches gave their speeches, the middle school students participated in a question-and-answer session, autograph signing and pictures with the Eastern athletes.

 Brittany Coles from women’s basketball, Alex Dreyer from cross country track and Cameron Langfels from baseball were among the student athletes took part in the event.

“They really had a lot of questions for us,” Newton said.

Wilson also pointed out the importance of events like this.

“The ‘Colonels for Education’ is an invaluable tool in reaching out to young students,” Wilson said.