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Future Bulldog Day gives Union County fifth-graders a glimpse of college life

Wingate, N.C.----For eight years, the Wingate University women's basketball team has hosted Future Bulldog Day for Union County school children. Future Bulldog Day is an event for local fifth-grade students to visit the Wingate campus for a day and enjoy virtual tours, motivational speakers and NCAA Division II basketball. The 2019 edition was Tuesday when the Bulldogs and the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears played an 11:30 a.m. South Atlantic Conference basketball matinee.
 
The first event in 2012 saw six local elementary schools and 432 students and chaperones attend the Future Bulldog Day. This year, nine schools and 916 students and chaperones saw the Bulldogs defeat SAC rival Lenoir-Rhyne 73-67 after a full morning of activities. Previous events have drawn double-digit schools and 1000-plus attendees.
 
The fifth-graders and their adult chaperones got the full Wingate Basketball experience during the contest. During time-outs, Courtney CallahanNick Robison and the WU Athletics marketing and promotions staff ran the hula-hoop relay and other fun games where the students could win prizes. The award-winning WU cheerleaders led the fifth-graders in cheers they learned earlier in the day. The Wingate Band kept the fans engaged as well.
 
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
 
When the fifth graders arrived, they gathered in Austin Auditorium to meet the team and hear from Bulldog graduate student football wide receiver BJ Muckelvene (Waxhaw, N.C.) and junior cross country/track distance specialist Lauryn Tumey (Haw River, N.C.). Wingate senior women's basketball forward Jordan Quick (High Point, N.C.) reminded the students they should be respectful to their elders, particularly their teachers. She even mentioned they should be thankful for cafeteria food.
 
Muckelvene echoed Quick's remarks about respect, explaining this is an important part of being a Bulldog. Tumey shared about the importance of developing a solid work ethic…and how this impacts your academics, your athletics and your life. During the question and answer session, one of the female students asked Tumey how many miles she should run each day as an 11-year-old. With grace, Tumey told her what she should be doing now to prepare for the future.
 
ROLE MODELS
 
Freshman forward Destiny Coleman (Columbia, S.C.) was playing in her first Future Bulldog Day game. "I could tell from the first moments…these kids want to be like me and my teammates," Coleman says. "The atmosphere in Cuddy Arena is one we will remember. It is nice to see the kids get excited and yell and scream for us."
 
Wingate assistant coach Katelyn Grisillo is the Bulldogs' point person for Future Bulldog Day. "There are so many moving parts to make something like this happen," Grisillo says. "Every department on campus plays a crucial role. The players look forward to this game every year…they enjoy the atmosphere and get a kick out of signing autographs after the game."
 
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS ATTENDING THE 2019 FUTURE BULLDOG DAY: East, Fairview, Prospect, Rock Rest, Rocky River, Union, Union Academy, Unionville and Wingate

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING about Future Bulldog Day…
 
Union County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan: "Future Bulldog Day is a great experience for our students. College and career readiness begins with our youngest students and this program exposes more than 800 students to the limitless opportunities they can experience after high school. In addition, Future Bulldog Day is aligned with several themes in our Strategic Plan. I want to thank Wingate president Dr. Rhett Brown and all of the WU staff members who make this day possible for the students in Union County Public Schools."
 
Wingate vice-president and director of athletics Steve Poston: "Future Bulldog Day is a special date on the WU athletic calendar. We are thrilled to welcome hundreds of fifth graders from area elementary schools to our campus. For many of these children, this is their first visit to a college campus. It is our hope that their visit will inspire them to make the most of their educational opportunities. Who knows? We may see some of them back at Wingate in a few years as members of our freshman class."
 
"A special thank you to Coach (Ann) Hancock, Coach Grisillo and Coach (Emry) Tsitouris and other athletic department staff members whose hard work made an unforgettable day possible." 

Wingate head women's basketball coach Ann Hancock: "Tuesday was a terrific day for Wingate Women's Basketball and the community. This is a special day for us to showcase the power of education and athletics to local fifth graders. It is nice to get a win in front of a big crowd, but more importantly, it is neat to have our team be able to give back in such a special way. Katelyn Grisillo put in lots of hard work behind the scenes to make it happen. On the court, it was a total team effort. We can enjoy this victory going in to final exams on a positive note."
 
Unionville Elementary School instructional assistant Ramona Seegars, whose daughter Miranda swam at Wingate: "Future Bulldog Day is such an inspiring experience for young elementary students. The student-athlete testimonials encourage our children to put equal importance on athletics and academics, starting at a young age. Attending the assembly and the game gives future Bulldogs a wonderful insight to the college experience at Wingate University. Go Bulldogs!"
 
Wingate University Athletics broadcast and video services intern Sam Hyman: "Future Bulldog Day was a huge success. The atmosphere was terrific with nine elementary schools in attendance. The kids were engaged the entire time and made it a fun environment for our broadcast. This day was more than a basketball game…I hope this is what we portrayed on the broadcast. The coaches stressed that it is also about passing along the importance of education."
 
WINGATE UNIVERSITY
 
A comprehensive, independent and growing university, Wingate serves more than 3,600 students in North Carolina. Founded in 1896, the University offers 37 undergraduate majors as well as graduate and professional programs. Wingate is home to the Cannon College of Arts and Sciences, the Levine College of Health Sciences, the Byrum School of Business, the Thayer School of Education and the School of Sport Sciences. Wingate blends in-class exploration with out-of-class application to deliver an uncommon and life-changing educational experience.
 
In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 22 NCAA Division II sports. The University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past 13 years. Wingate is first in the 2000s among NCAA Division II and North Carolina's colleges and universities with 114 CoSIDA Academic All-America® selections. Wingate is tops among all SAC schools with 123 lifetime Academic All-America® honorees. For more information on WU athletics, go to www.wingatebulldogs.com. Current news and videos can be found at www.wingate.edu.

Article courtesy Wingate University
Athletic Communications