MENOMONEE FALLS (WITI) -- Before heading to the Big Dance, several UWM basketball players made good on a promise by visiting a Menomonee Falls elementary school Friday, March 14th.
The athletes stopped by Valley View Elementary for a visit that had been planned long before the Panthers won the Horizon League. Students and staff cheered on the basketball players during a pep rally. After, the Panthers split up and read to the students -- the original reason for the visit.
Few people expected UWM to make it to the NCAA Tournament, and the team is hoping their story can inspire students more than any of the books they'll read them.
"I've been in those kids' shoes and I'm sure our guys have. We've always been told what we couldn't do and what we were and at a certain point, you just gotta prove what you are and who you are," said UWM assistant coach Sharif Chambliss.
The players, themselves, say they thought their season would be over by the time they visited Valley View.
"I probably never would've believed that. A month ago we were sort of struggling -- now our team came together in the end and pulled off a lot of upsets," said freshman forward Brett Prahl.
The Panthers' surprising success only adds to the excitement for students who were already looking forward to seeing a squad they look up to.
"The end goal is to show them that reading is a life long skill that they will use no matter where they go in their life and no matter what they do in their life," said Valley View reading teacher Sarah Doerr.
The players moved from classroom to classroom reading to students. In some cases, the kids even chose the book their guests would read them.