More than 300 Tar Heel student-athletes participated in the program, corresponding with third, fourth, and fifth grade students at New Hope. Kyle Murphy, a junior on the Carolina football team, was this year's student coordinator of the program and its designated mailman, shuttling letters back and forth.
“On days that I had time, I would stay and hang out during class or go outside during recess,” Murphy said. “I'm still a kid at heart so recess is always fun. It's cool to be able to talk back and forth with your pen pal, learn about them and give them any kind of advice that I would have liked to know when I was their age.”
The Pen Pal program, which will resume again in the fall, culminated in a “Meet and Greet” at the UNC baseball game on April 18. Many elementary school students came to Boshamer Stadium to meet their UNC pen pals for the first time and watch the Tar Heels take on the Liberty Flames.
The program has become a highlight for both student-athletes and their young pen pals. Said women's lacrosse senior Kayla Miles, “I have been part of the Pen Pal program all four of my years at Carolina and is something I have always looked forward to every year. This year I was paired with a bright young 5th grade girl named Shannon. At the baseball game, I finally got a chance to meet her after writing back and forth for almost a year. I look forward to this day as much as they do. Little did I know that she attended my senior game the weekend before, and it was her first lacrosse game ever. This meant so much to me and goes to show how much these kids look up to you. This program has created a lasting impression on me and gives kids a chance to get to know their role models.”
– Story by Erin Hegarty