‘Read, Sip, Play’ Levels Up Storytime with UofL Basketball Team

Read, Sip, Play groupOn a warm summer day inside Shawnee Park, children gathered around UofL Head Basketball Coach Kenny Payne and his team. The players weren’t there to shoot hoops. Instead, they scored points off the court with storytime!

Louisville Water teamed up with the Addie & Baylor Kirchgessner Foundation for Read, Sip, Play programs at some of our local parks. It’s a win-win opportunity as children enjoy storytime, playtime, plus refreshing Louisville Pure Tap® with healthy snacks!

“When school is out for the summer, learning stops for many kids. Reading a book keeps the mind engaged. Our Read, Sip, Play events with Louisville Water work the brain and body, and keep kids hydrated, which makes everything work better!” said Lauren Kirchgessner, a former JCPS teacher and co-founder of the Addie & Baylor Kirchgessner Foundation.

Louisville Water Community Relations Specialist Barbara Crow said Coach Payne didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation to be July’s “celebrity reader.”

“Coach Payne is awesome at giving back. He never even said ‘oh, let me think about it, let me check my schedule’. When we asked him, he said ‘tell me what time and I’ll be there’,” Crow shared.

She never imagined he would bring extra star power for a reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

“It’s the reason why we’re in these positions. Positions where people look up to us. It’s a chance to give back to this community, give back to the youth,” Coach Payne said.

“It was just heartwarming to think that a team like that and a coach like that, who people know all over the world, would come to this event. To have them here was an honor. I don’t know if when they signed up to play basketball at the prestigious University of Louisville that they ever thought they’d be reading to a bunch of children. They were great with the kids!” Crow exclaimed.

Read, Sip, Play UofL Sophomore Point Guard Skyy Clark admitted he might’ve enjoyed it more than the kids. “It was really fun. Anytime I can give back to the community, I’m always down for it.”

The team got several thumbs ups from six-year-old Tristian Holt who scored some one-on-one time with a Cardinal.

“I’m good at basketball. I play a lot at my house. I wanted to come here,” he said.

Nine-year-old Terreona was smiling ear to ear. She told us her favorite part was getting some free books and meeting the basketball team.

“They (the kids) need to know that one day we were just like them and these guys were just like them, young kids with big dreams and look where they are now. They need to know there’s hope for them. There’s hope for them to succeed and their dreams can come true as well,” Coach Payne said.

Tapper at Read, Sip, PlayTapper showed up to play in the second half. Children greeted him with delightful yelps, hugs, and high-fives. A few enecouraged him to join them on the monkey bars, saying “I believe in you, Tapper!”

We might be biased, but Read, Sip, Play was winning all-around on Tuesday!

Lauren and Matt Kirchgessner created the foundation in memory of their children, Addie and Baylor, who loved to read. The non-profit organization provides free books to hundreds of children each year through various events.

Join us for the next Read, Sip, Play on August 1 at Cherokee Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.