Jan. 5, 2009
He doesn't recall the title of the book, but for Rice student-athlete Rodney Foster the message it shared is still fresh in his memory as he tells about the day spent last fall just blocks off the Rice campus reading to students at Poe Elementary.
"I can't remember the title but I remember the premise of the story," Foster said. "It was a baseball story in which a child was small for his age and the big kids wouldn't let him play with them. But in the end, his dad talked the team into letting him play and he ended up hitting a game-winning home run. It just had a good message about how everyone can be productive."
When it comes to the experience of reading to elementary-age kids, it may be difficult to distinguish who got the most from the outing.
"I always wanted athletes to come talk to me when I was younger, so it was big for me to read to elementary-age kids," Foster said. "And you could just tell by the gleam in their eyes that they really enjoyed it. You don't know how much of an impact you have until a parent comes up to you before or after a game and says they heard about you reading to their child's class."
Following the outing to read to students at Poe Elementary, Foster continued his relationship with the school, returning to speak to students.
"I had an opportunity to go back and talk to the kids just about doing well in school and keeping their grades up," he said. "It was a fun talk and I think it was beneficial."
Foster begins his senior season as a member of the Rice basketball team. For the past three years he has also been involved in visiting with and spending time playing with young patients at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital located in the Texas Medical Center.
"We have spent time every year at the hospital just trying to brighten up the young patients' days by doing stuff like playing video games and other board games with them," Foster said. "We always want to give back to our community. There are people less fortunate than we are and we just want to do anything we can to help make others' lives better."
Like so many other collegiate athletes, Foster has aspirations of continuing his playing career, possibly oversees after he graduates. But he knows the education he has received at Rice has prepared him well for his goals when he trades in Nike high-tops for a pair of leather dress shoes. Following his playing career, he is interested in pursuing employment in investment banking or the stock brokering field.
"Growing up 30 minutes from here (in Katy), I couldn't have picked a better school to attend," he said. "You have the best of both worlds. You have great academics and great athletics. You receive a first-class education at Rice and you make so many contacts. People genuinely care about you here."
And that is why Rodney Foster is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.