UHart Student Athletes Spread Love of Reading on LoMaglio Day of Community Service

UHart student-athletes know a thing or two about giving their all to succeed, both on and off the field. And recently, a group of 15 red-shirted Hawks gathered at a Bloomfield, Connecticut, elementary school to impart a lesson about the love of learning.

student reading book in classroom

On a recent April morning, children at a Bloomfield, Connecticut, elementary school had more than something to look forward to; they also had something to look up to. Quite literally. That’s because a group of student-athletes from the University of Hartford came to read books to them, and as is true with many athletes, the 15 red-shirted Hawks were taller than virtually every other adult at the school.

The UHart students, from a variety of sports and majors, were the first participants in what will be an annual event known as the Dr. A. Peter LoMaglio Day of Community Service and Citizenship. LoMaglio, who died in 2015, was the University’s first director of athletics—often called the “father of Hartford athletics.” A group of past student-athletes from the 1950s and 60s established and endowed fund at the University to support this annual event in LoMaglio’s honor. The reading day was planned by UHart’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council in partnership with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.

The initiation of this book reading event at the Bloomfield school was significant because what had been called Laurel Elementary recently changed its name to the Laurel Literacy Academy.

“We are poised for success to have our students become lifelong readers,” said Bethany Silver, acting superintendent of the Bloomfield Public Schools.

Thank you, donors!

The following lead donors to the Dr. A. Peter LoMaglio Citizenship Fund have made this annual event possible:

  • Robert H. Forrester ’66, Hon. ’17 and Linda A. Forrester; Lifetime Regent, Men’s Soccer 1962-1965
  • George R. Lasnier ’64 and Wendy L. King; Men’s Soccer 1960-1964, Men’s Basketball 1961-1962, Men’s Tennis 1963-1964
  • Wolfried H. Mielert ’66 and Anita L. Mielert; Men’s Soccer 1962-1965
  • Lawrence M. Murphy ’67 and Joan Loffler Murphy ’68, M’72; Men’s Soccer 1965-1967, Men’s Basketball 1966-1967
  • George M. Gentile ’59, M’69, Hon. ’07, P’92 (Deceased) and Cynthia D. Gentile; Men’s Soccer 1956-1957
  • Stephen T. Hopkins ’63 (Deceased) and Jane N. Hopkins; Men’s soccer 1961-1963

Silver made her remarks at a short assembly at the start of the school day, and then introduced UHart Director of Athletics and Recreation Alicia Queally. “Reading can take you anywhere in life,” Queally told the more than 200 kindergarten through second-grade students. Then the UHart athletes accompanied them to their classrooms and read one of four children’s books, such as The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee and The World Needs Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart. The books were then donated to the school.

The Hawks also assisted teachers with activities related to the theme of each book.

Several UHart student-athletes came away from the experience with more than just the knowledge that their donated time went to good use: several Laurel students felt compelled to offer them a grateful hug in return.

A couple of former UHart student-athletes and donors to the Dr. A. Peter LoMaglio Citizenship Fund, Robert Forrester ’66, Hon. ’17 and Wolfried Mielert ’66, who played in the 1960s when LoMaglio was active on campus also stopped by the event to show their support. LoMaglio was a strong proponent of advancing the notion that education and sports are crucial in developing productive and responsible citizens.

“This is an opportunity to spread love of reading and love of literacy—and the joy that books bring to our children,” says John Prescod, Director of Education Initiatives for United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. “United Way is passionate about closing gaps in child literacy. Deepening our impact in child literacy and connecting people with resources and opportunities to make a difference is what United Way does best. We are thrilled to partner with the University of Hartford and their athletes on this initiative.

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Matt Besterman