College athletes have an average literacy level of a junior high reader, but one football player is striving to improve his reading skills.
University of Georgia Bulldogs’ star wide receiver has been meeting with a women’s book club to improve his reading level, after being sidelined due to injury, according to WTSP.
“Somebody called me a nerd. That’s not a word that I’m used to hearing,” he said, according to WTSP.
Malcolm Mitchell has been expanding his skill set beyond the football field after a knee injury in early August. Although his athletic abilities were missed in this past week’s game against South Carolina, Mitchell is taking advantage of the down time.
According to WTSP, Mitchell met a Kathy Rackeley, a member of the book club, in a Barnes and Nobel. The two began a conversation after Mitchell asked for a book recommendation. The conversation led to Mitchell asking to join the women’s book club. Although Rackely said the group was made up of 40- to 60-year-old women, the determined athlete was not discouraged. So the Athens, Ga. book club unknowingly had gained a D-1 football player.
“I mean a chance encounter in a bookstore, how wonderful is that?” said Kathy. She had no idea who Mitchell was. “None whatsoever.”
College athletes have a reputation for scoring below typical academic standards. According to a CNN investigation on student athlete’s academics, 7.5 percent of University of Georgia athletes fall below the threshold of college literacy.
Mitchell’s low reading level bothered him, reports WTSP. The college athlete has been meeting with the book club monthly. The supportive group of women says the selection of books may not be exactly what he would have picked, but he enjoys them all. He says he is very proud to be called a nerd: “It’s like a badge of honor to me, knowing where I came from.”
“I finished the ‘Hunger Games’ series in about two days,” Mitchell said.
His effort with the help of his book club “family” has given him his proudest college achievement. He says that football is something that comes naturally, but reading is something he was to work at.