Right before the Springfield College women’s basketball team tipped off against Middlebury on Dec. 3, in walked a group of elementary school-aged students, accompanied by their parents. To many, this may have just looked like young kids attending a basketball game with their parents. And although that may have been true, that was just one small part of the equation.
Rachel Vinton, a senior on the Springfield women’s basketball team, knew exactly who they were.
Vinton, a physical education major, is a student-teacher at nearby Wolf Swamp Elementary for the fall semester. She spends Monday through Friday teaching elementary school students just as a normal teacher would.
“It’s been a great experience,” Vinton said. “I love teaching the kids all day… and the kids…I love them so much.”
Through this experience, a bond was created between Vinton and her students — a bond that led to Vinton inviting her students and their parents to attend one of her basketball games. Through the help of the Springfield Athletic department, and her supervisor, all the kids were able to attend the game for free.
Although Vinton had told her students about the game, what she did not expect was the amount of people who showed up in support. More than 80 students, siblings and parents showed up to Blake Arena with signs and posters to support the Pride, and of course, “Ms.Vinton.”
Springfield came away with the 65-53 win, and Vinton had a huge impact, totaling nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Although she is very important on the basketball court, she was reminded of her huge impact in the classroom.
As the final buzzer rang, and the teams shook hands, her students rushed the court trying to find their teacher.
“They all came up to me and gave me like 30 to 40 posters, and were all like ‘Ms. Vinton you were so good, good job,’” Vinton said, with a smile. “It was the best feeling in the world knowing they all came to support me.”
This love for basketball is something that her and her students share together.
“I’ll come in on a Monday and my fifth graders will ask ‘Did you have any games?’ or ‘Did you win?’” Vinton said. “And then they will tell me about their games. It’s something that has become like a ritual.”
As someone who was once in their shoes, Vinton knows the impact she can have on those who are young and have aspirations of playing any sport, not just basketball.
“It’s great being able to be a role model for those kids in the classroom and outside,” Vinton said. “My teacher even said, ‘A lot of us kids see a lot of male athletes as their role models, and to have a female athlete as their role model is really important.’”
Photo Courtesy of Rachel Vinton