Mario Little Visits Prairie Park Elementary for READ Event

Feb. 24, 2011


Minutes before the arrival of Kansas men’s basketball player Mario Little, the air at Prairie Park Elementary School was buzzing with anticipation and excitement that would rival a Justin Bieber concert. And those were just the vibes coming from the faculty and staff.

On Feb. 16th Little took two hours out of his busy schedule to visit the Lawrence public school and volunteer some of his time. He visited classrooms in four different grade levels and spent time with almost 200 students. At each class Little read a book about basketball to the students, then opened the floor to questions. The first class he visited, a kindergarten class, was less interested in the book to be read and much more concerned with the senior KU basketball star himself, as several children were fascinated by the 6’6″ man in the room.

“How many loops are there in basketball?” a kindergarten student asked.

“Hoops,” the teacher corrected. “I think she means hoops.”

“Can you read another book?” the student shouted before he could respond.

As the grade levels increased, so did the students’ awareness. By 10:30 a.m., when Little visited the fourth grade, several of the girls waited nervously, twisting their hair, while many of the boys bounced in their seats. Nearly everyone, some teachers included, waited with pens and paper for autographs.

“Who did you last play?” asked one student.

“We played OSU on Monday,” Little replied.

“You whooped them didn’t you?” the student responded.

For the entire morning, Little was swamped with questions, autograph requests and a never-ending line of kids wanting to squirm their way next to him in pictures. He charmingly handled every situation with patience.

As the last few photographs were snapped and books were read, Little’s visit to Prairie Park came to an end, but the memories made will last a lifetime.

Little and the No. 3/2 Kansas Jayhawks will face off against Big 12 Conference foe Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 26. Tip-off in Norman is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.