WSSU Athletics Hosts The Downtown School For Sixth Annual Apprenticeship Experience

Elementary school students spend the day with WSSU Athletics administrators and coaches

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Winston-Salem State University Department of Athletics played host to students from the Downtown School on Wednesday morning for their sixth annual apprenticeship experience at the Bowman Gray Fieldhouse on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.

In a partnership between the WSSU Department of Athletics under the guidance of WSSU Associate Director of Athletics, Tonia Walker and the Downtown School under the tutelage of Guidance Counselor Mary-Beth Edens, eight fifth graders spent the day learning about college athletics and the careers within intercollegiate athletics.

"This year marks the sixth year that the Ram Athletic Family spends the day with fifth graders from the Downtown Elementary School.  This apprenticeship experience is the perfect opportunity to shape the next generation of coaches, administrators and student-athletes.  It's a day filled with great discussion, lunch in the cafeteria and lots of interaction with staff and the student-athletes. The students leave with a concept of what it takes to play or work in collegiate athletics, but the ultimate take away is the importance of academics in their ultimate success," WSSU Associate Director of Athletics, Tonia Walker said Wednesday.

"Anytime that we, as an athletic department, and as an institution of higher learning, can give back to our community, especially the young people in our community, we are extremely grateful.  This is a chance to help further the interests of these children, not only in WSSU and in athletics but it helps to reinforce the message of how athletics helps student-athletes achieve excellence in the classroom and in life" Tonia Walker added.

The eight students started their morning at the Bowman Gray Fieldhouse where they listened to presentations from and participated in a question and answer period with WSSU Director of Athletics, William "Bill" Hayes; Associate Director of Athletics, Tonia Walker; Student-Athlete Academic Advisor, Yolanda Childs; WSSU Assistant Director of Media Relations, Trevin Goodwin; Marketing Coordinator, Brian Murrill; WSSU head coaches Connell Maynor (football), Steve Joyner (women's basketball); Inez Turner (cross country/track & field) and Jason Mai (bowling); Assistant women's basketball coach, Shenika Worthy; and Assistant Athletic Trainer, Benecia Ledford.

The students also received tours of the WSSU athletic facilities, met with student-athletes and athletic department staff members and had lunch on campus before capping off the day with a presentation from WSSU Associate Director of Athletics, Tonia Walker.

Under the leadership of Tonia Walker, WSSU student-athletes and athletic department administrators and staff members spent 819 hours giving back to their community in 2011-12.  For additional information on the WSSU Department of Athletics Community Outreach initiatives, contact the WSSU Department of Athletics at (336) 750-2141 for details or log on the Official Website of WSSU Athletics at