Excerpt of Andrew Carrillo’s letter to UNLV My students can’t help but to see my UNLV pride. Besides my jerseys, jackets, hats and socks, I use my pride every single day to motivate and encourage my third grade class, a group of students who sometimes struggle to dream big because their daily life needs are not met. In math, we analyze stats from games. wholesale jerseys from china In reading, we dig deep into texts that teach the history of sports, of course paying special attention to Mr. Jerry Tarkanian.”

Andrew Carrillo remembers the first UNLV basketball game he attended. Shawn Marion soared high for a dunk that evening in the late 1990s, and the crowd was vocal from start to finish. Carrillo was hooked instantly.

UNLV’s good nights have been numerous since then, from the Sweet 16 run of 2007 to the Rebels’ victory over No. 1 North Carolina in 2011. But it was a game late last month that tops Carillo’s list of fondest memories.

Carrillo sat in the upper bowl of the Thomas Mack Center on Feb. 27 for the Rebels’ home finale against Wyoming with most of the children from his third grade class at Cynthia W. Cunningham Elementary School and their families. For the nearly 20 students who attended, it was their first UNLV game.

Carrillo couldn’t stop smiling at their enthusiasm. The children raved about how tall the players were and screamed in excitement during good plays. They, too, were hooked.

“It felt like I was at my first game all over again,” said Carrillo, 24.

Like most young Rebel fans in Southern Nevada, Carillo as a child dreamed of one day being affiliated with the program. After Dave Rice resigned as head coach in January, Carrillo decided to act on his dreams and, more importantly, teach his third graders a lesson about pursuing their goals, no matter how lofty.

The teacher penned a letter to UNLV’s athletic department officials expressing his interest in the coaching position. He knew he wouldn’t be considered seriously because he never played organized basketball, hasn’t coached and still is finishing his college degree. But he was launching the “Dream Big or Go Home” program with students at at risk Cunningham and realized this would pave the way for the project. A few of the students couldn’t attend the UNLV game because they didn’t have transportation, and most come from homes with limited resources.

Carrillo, a long term substitute, didn’t sit around and wait for UNLV to respond. He took to social media to promote his letter, showing he had some of the traits needed in a new coach: determination and a passion for the university. Soon, others took notice.

Darryl Seibel, associate athletic director at UNLV, invited Carrillo for a tour of the campus and basketball facility, and asked his input about the future of the program. Carrillo wouldn’t be coach, but he was part of the process. That’s a major victory in the class project. So were the 100 free tickets UNLV donated for students and their families.

“It is fantastic that he is using his passion and enthusiasm for Runnin’ Rebel basketball as opportunity to offer an important lesson to his students about setting goals and pursuing their dreams,” Seibel said.

On the dry erase board of Carrillo’s portable classroom at his east Las Vegas school, 22 students list what they want to be when they grow up doctors, lawyers, professional athletes and models among their aspirations. In spot No. 23: UNLV basketball coach for Carrillo.

After word spread of Carrillo’s letter and he was interviewed by ESPN Radio, Cunningham officials presented Carrillo with a homemade UNLV basketball shirt printed with “Coach Carrillo” on the back. The students also got shirts.

“Dream hard and believe in yourself,” said Chaden Taylor, a student in Carrillo’s class who wants to become a model. “He taught us to keep our dream alive and don’t doubt yourself.”

But if it weren’t for one of his students, Carrillo wouldn’t have sent his letter. Carrillo talks nonstop about the Rebels to students, especially the day after games, and one suggested he become the coach.

“He said, ‘Do you know Dave Rice got fired? You can be the coach,'” Carrillo said. “I giggled because I know not any regular Joe can apply.”

But that’s not the attitude he wants his students to take, so he applied, anyway.

Carrillo’s “Dream Big or Go Home” project is far from complete. Students are researching their proposed careers and developing action plans to accomplish their goals. http://www.cheapnfljerseysonlineg.top Carrillo has encouraged them to think outside the box and to not sit around and wait for a break.

“To me, ‘dream big or go home’ means don’t give up on your dreams,” said student Jaden Glass, who wants to play professional basketball. “Let your dreams live.”

Carrillo soaked up every minute of his up close encounter with the Rebels.

As for the coaching vacancy, he hopes Louisville coach Rick Pitino comes to Las Vegas. For UNLV, that would be dreaming big.