MANKATO, MINN

Sometimes kids get bored with the same schedule every day during the school year.

Earlier this afternoon, third graders had the opportunity to listen to Minnesota State University basketball players read them children's books in culmination with the Read to the Final Four Program.

"I want them to have a little spark," said Cordell Smith of Read to the Final Four.  "Sometimes kids need that, something outside their normal routine that kind of gets them excited.  To have it associated with reading hopefully is something that hopefully again sparks something for them and makes them read a little bit more.  Lastly and most importantly I want them to have something that they remember for the rest of their life because events like this I hope they remember when they are 25–years–old, 50–years–old."

The Read to the Final Four Program is a 3rd grade reading program that gives students an online platform to have the chance to read 6,000 books.

The program travels every year to whichever city, or in this case state, is hosting the Final Four.

When it comes to getting kids interested in reading, bringing in people that they look up to, like the student–athletes, can go a long way.

"If you work hard and truly love something you can one day be like us and how they look up to us.  People can look up to them and kids can look up to them," said MSU women's basketball player Tayla Stuttley.

"Kids look up to these athletes like they are Lebron James," said Smith.  "I know in this community and other communities around the state, St. Cloud, Bemidji and Mankato, the local universities are super stars to these kids so we wanted to bring them together and give everyone some excitement."

At the end of the reading session, kids had the chance to ask the players some questions.

Players wanted to make it known that it isn't just what you do in your sport or activity, but what you do for others as well.

"It's not just what you are doing on the court, it's what you are doing off the court or on the field or off the field," explained Nick Lewis, Director of Marketing at MSU.  "There is more to it than just the student–athlete experience or playing your sport that there is a whole world out there watching and they may want to grow up to be exactly like them."

For these student–athletes, inspiring the next generation isn't a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.

--KEYC News 12