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Senior Shows Leadership On and Off the Court

Middie Rising
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Senior Shows Leadership On and Off the Court

Mar 2, 2023
Older student and younger student sit on bean bags together.
Izaiah mentors 4th grader Bri'Dyn

Inside Creekview Elementary – on a bean bag chair meant for someone half his age (and height) – sits Izaiah Day. The senior guard on the boy’s basketball team is spending time doing something he might enjoy just as much as commanding the court; mentoring young students.

This semester, Izaiah has been taking time out of his busy schedule as a working student-athlete, to meet with fourth grader Bri’Dyn. It all started when Creekview Elementary Principal Jaime Lierly, and School Counselor Cindy Banfield, saw a need for connecting Bri’Dyn with an older student he could talk to and look up to.

Lierly and Banfield then reached out to Middletown Boys Basketball Coach Kelven Moss, who had just the right student in mind. To Moss, it’s clear Izaiah is a leader both on and off the court. “Izaiah is always looking to make an impact. So why not let him impact young students and the future leaders in our community,” Moss said.

And it’s easy to feel that impact. When Izaiah walks the halls at Creekview Elementary, students stop and stare, most of them simply amazed by his height (to them he is eight feet tall). And it’s clear Bri’Dyn looks forward to these visits with Izaiah. During one Thursday afternoon, Izaiah carefully and creatively navigates topics of conversation with Bri’Dyn. The pair share a common love of basketball, something they both enjoy discussing. But Izaiah also uses each visit as a chance to ask Bri’Dyn about things like how he resolves conflict when he finds himself frustrated.

After just one visit between Izaiah and Bri’Dyn, you can tell both parties are gaining something from their interaction. “I look forward to each visit, just seeing him brightens my day,” Izaiah said. For Izaiah, it’s something he says he could have used at Bri’Dyn’s age. “I used to be angry as a kid, I didn’t know how to control my anger, and I would get easily frustrated. Having someone to talk to me and guide me would have been really helpful,” he added.

Banfield believes more students could benefit from this type of interaction. She’s hopeful Izaiah’s visits will spawn a larger student-mentorship program in the future. “Our elementary students look up to the big kids and the student-athletes. They want to be like them when they’re older,” Banfield said.

When it comes to Izaiah’s future, he has no plans of slowing down. After graduation he’ll head to Upland, Indiana to attend Taylor University. In conversation, he nonchalantly mentions how he’s attending the NAIA school on a full-ride scholarship, which he earned academically and athletically. He plans to pursue a degree in Legal Studies at Taylor University, and then continue his education at the University of Cincinnati.

With Izaiah graduating at the end of the school year, Banfield, Lierly, and Moss all hope more students will be interested in mentoring their younger peers. Izaiah says he has already fielded questions from teammates about how they can get involved.

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