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Education the key to slam dunk success

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

There was a pep rally of sorts before yesterday’s Northeastern women’s basketball game against Vermont, but it wasn’t entirely for the Lady Huskies.

Instead, nearly 900 students from four Boston public schools filled Northeastern’s Cabot Physical Education Center for a day that promoted the importance of education and brought many youths to a college campus for the first time.

“Let me say that this will not be the last time you are here at Northeastern,” said John Tobin, the university’s vice president for community and city affairs, “and I really hope that in 10 or 15 years from now, we will be able to congratulate you as graduates from this fine university.”

Athletics Director Peter Roby shared his own personal success story, which he said would in no way be possible without his education.

“There’s nothing more important we can do to be successful than to get an education,” Roby said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. I don’t care how good looking you are, how fast you can run or how well you can sing — you’re only going to go so far unless you get an education.”

Throughout the day, the students were urged to emulate student athletes like those on Northeastern’s women’s basketball squad, who, through hard work and dedication, excel in academics as well as athletics.

“If I could leave you with just one message, it would be this: Whatever you want to do, whoever you want to be, be dedicated in all that you do,” said Daynia La-Force Mann, the women’s basketball head coach.

La-Force Mann taught the students several cheers to use at the noon game against Vermont, and later they packed Solomon Court, creating a loud and exciting game for the Huskies. Northeastern won, 78-62.

In addition to taking responsibility for their own futures, Dani Rylan, a forward on the women’s ice hockey team who initially put off going to college after high school, told the students to hold their classmates accountable in the same way she and her teammates do on the ice and in the locker room.

“On our team, we say we have to be accountable to our teammates on the ice and you need to make sure you hold your classmates accountable — on homework, on behavior — so that one day you will have the opportunity to go to college, maybe even the opportunity to go to college together.”