The hearts of MSU student athletes got a little bigger Friday morning as they spoke to more than 800 Lansing elementary school students at the Ive Got Heart event.
The 14th annual National Student Athlete Day was honored with the event held in the gym of the IM Sports-West. MSU head football coach Bobby Williams and MSU womens basketball head coach Joanne P. McCallie were joined by current and former Spartan athletes.
This is a special event with a special bunch of kids, Williams said.
\There are a lot of kids who would like to be here right now and they are lucky to have this opportunity.
The elementary school students are mentored by MSU athletes through the Ive Got Heart Program and were invited to watch as the athletes were honored for their work.
The children listened intently to the messages the speakers were delivering.
Think big and dream big, Williams told the students. You can do anything you want to do.
McCallie entertained the crowd by dancing to music provided by a disc jockey. Although she said she was having fun, she also had a serious message for the kids.
The motto of our team is choice, not chance, she said. Its about making the right decisions in life whether or not you are on the basketball court.
She also spoke to the group about giving 100 percent all the time.
Its important to have heart and soul and passion in life, McCallie said. Life is about giving all you have everyday.
Kristen Rasmussen, a former MSU basketball star and WNBA forward for the Miami Soul told the students it is OK to make mistakes, as long as they learn from them.
Making mistakes are a part of life, she said. But you cant let it bother you and you cant let it affect how you become a person.
Football tight end Ivory McCoy, senior point guard Christie Pung from the womens basketball team and Ray Hill, a former Spartan and corner back for the Buffalo Bills, also spoke to the students.
Fourth-grader Alison Demmer said the athletes messages were interesting.
They were really funny and really nice, she said. I think everyone was listening to them and liked what they said.
But Alison said her favorite part was the sports demonstrations. Members of the gymnastics team did tumbling performances and the kids participated in events such as musical basketball chairs and a soccer relay.
It was fun yelling and screaming for the people from my school, Alison said. We would all stand up and cheer when they made a basket.
Third-grader Dan Listen was on the receiving end of all that cheering. He won the basketball musical chairs game, where he had to shoot a basket and run back to the chairs when the music stopped.
It was really hard to get it to go in because there were so many balls flying all over the place, Dan said. But it was so much fun and everyone was cheering for me.