WELLSBURG, W.Va. – Although the Bethany College football team was not preparing for a game on Sept. 23, that doesn’t mean the Bison football players weren’t busy in other ways.

That’s because first-year head coach Tim Weaver and three of his players traveled to Wellsburg Preschool on Friday, Sept. 22 to kick off their new “Boomer and Books” program. Weaver, along with junior offensive lineman Justin Elkins (Columbus, Ga./Pacelli Catholic), sophomore linebacker Ron Ermlick (Charleroi, Pa.) and sophomore defensive back Dante Fuscardo (Follansbee, W.Va./Brooke) had a chance to spend time with 15 children from the local area.

Weaver’s had the idea of spending time in local schools since he was at
West 5308DSCF0457.JPG Virginia Wesleyan College, where head coach Bill Struble initiated the “Bobcats and Books” program. All Weaver, who has led BC to a 2-1 start this season, did was change the name to Bethany’s mascot name of Boomer and ask for volunteers from his players, which he says he had to choose from plenty of willing participants.

“We did Bobcats and Books under Bill Struble at West Virginia Wesleyan and I think it’s a great chance to get out in the community,” said Weaver. “The best part was when I asked for volunteers, we had a bunch of guys who wanted to do it, which makes me feel real good about what type of people we have on our football team.”

After the three players were introduced, they took turns reading a book to the class. After the book was completed, the kids had a chance to ask Elkins, Ermlick and Fuscardo what they do on the field and also learn about how the players stay fit during the season and keep their grades up. The visit ended with some of the kids trying on real helmets and shoulder pads the Bison use on Saturdays.

Weaver is hoping this is just the first of many trips to local schools throughout the area.

“Today we had the chance to go to the morning pre-school and soon, we will go out to the afternoon class,” said Weaver, whose four-year old daughter Delaney was in Friday’s class. “After that, we’ll look at our game schedule, as well as our players’ class schedules, and see what time will allow, although we want to get to as many of the schools in the Ohio Valley as we can. With this being our off week, it was just a perfect time to do it.”

While it was a big thrill for the kids to meet them, the players seemed to enjoy it just as much and treasured the opportunity to spread a positive word.

6193DSCF0466.JPG“I feel it’s very important to get involved with the community and children as much as possible,” said Ermlick. “Reaching out to children while they are young is one of the best ways to influence them to continue their education and strive to be great.”

For Fuscardo, this wasn’t just a chance to visit a school, but it was also an opportunity to give back to his hometown community.

“This community is where I grew up and I would like to give back and have a major impact as much as I can,” said Fuscardo. “This was an amazing opportunity to work with these little kids and the attention we received, even though the children were so young, was excellent. I believe that the chance to reach out to these children and this community is an important goal to have and is something that should be a regular event.”

Just prior to leaving, Weaver and his players invited the kids and their parents to any of the remaining Bison home games this season. For the BC coach, Friday was just one step in making Bethany College football a household name in the region.

“I would like us to be the Ohio Valley’s football program,” said Weaver. “We want to make it our recruiting base and we need to start when the kids are small and give them positive, fun experiences with Bethany football. Hopefully we did that today and some of the kids we saw will grow up to have great success at Brooke and then come to Bethany to help us be a winner.”