Middle School Program Enters 12th Year at Big Ten WBB Tournament
Beyond the games, one of the most popular, successful and certainly fulfilling aspects of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament has been the Big Ten Basketball Middle School Curriculum Program.
Instituted for the 1996 Big Ten Women's Tournament in Indianapolis and continued every year since, the program pairs local middle schools with Big Ten teams in a manner that is fun, inspiring, informative and, most of all, educational.
Middle schools are assigned a Big Ten team (and, therefore, a university) to follow throughout the conference season. Each middle school is provided information about its team through media guides, other literature, and accessing the institution's web site. Another facet is the Team Pen Pal Program, in which the middle school students correspond with student-athletes via e-mail or letters.
When Big Ten teams arrive in Indianapolis, they also are given a mailbag filled with letters and posters offering welcome and good luck wishes.
In the meantime, the middle school students incorporate their team into the curriculum. For example, in math class, students examine box scores and figure scoring averages, shooting percentages, assist-to-turnover ratios and win-loss percentages. In art class, students are encouraged to make banners that will be displayed in the team's Conseco Fieldhouse locker room or on the Fieldhouse walls. In music class, students learn the university fight songs. In physical education, they study the training, dietary and sleeping regimens of athletes, as well as the psychological aspects of sports.
At the end of the season, select students enrolled in the middle school program receive free tickets to attend the first Big Ten Tournament game of the team that they have been following. Their enthusiasm for their teams creates a definite sense of excitement.
In 2006, the 11th annual program saw 27 middle schools - representing Indianapolis public schools, township schools, suburban schools and parochial schools - paired with the 11 Big Ten women's teams. Over 3,200 children benefited from their involvement with the event. Of the 27 schools, eight were from five counties surrounding Indianapolis and Marion County. This year, 32 schools and more than 2,500 children will take part in the program.2007 PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS