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UNLV coach Bobby Hauck preaches the importance of reading to students during Nevada Reading Week

The coach, an avid fan of historical fiction writer Leon Uris, reads every night

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Christopher DeVargas

UNLV football’s Sidney Hodge and coach Bobby Hauck read to students at Crestwood Elementary School, Wednesday Feb. 29, 2012.

UNLV's Coach Bobby Hauck Visits Crestwood Elementary

UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck talks with students at Crestwood Elementary School, Wednesday Feb. 29, 2012. Launch slideshow »

When UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck visited a classroom of kindergarten students Wednesday at Crestwood Elementary School in Las Vegas for Nevada Reading Week, the coach was more than familiar with some of the books the children have read.

All four of Hauck’s young children read every night; the coach told the schoolchildren “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss is his favorite. Hauck is also an avid reader — he is in the middle of a 960-page book on the Civil War — and spoke to the children about the value of reading.

“Reading is the first step to what you have to do to get an education,” he told the room of about 20 students. “It all starts with reading.”

UNLV rising junior defensive back Sidney Hodge read “Clifford the Big Red Dog” to the children, taking time to point out pictures in the book and clearly enjoying himself in front of the students.

“It was great coming in and just seeing the smile on the kids’ faces,” said Hodge, who often reads to his young daughter.

Nevada Reading Week, which was established in 1987, is a statewide initiative for Nevada teachers and librarians to celebrate reading through activities. The program is one of the most important projects each year for UNLV’s community outreach department — athletic director Jim Livengood and basketball coach Dave Rice read at different schools earlier in the week.

“It was completely thrilling and such a privilege to know we were the only class (Hauck) was going to,” said Tiffany Brandon, the teacher of the classroom Hauck and Hodge visited.

When the player and coach entered the room, Brandon had the students tell them their favorite letters — “UNLV,” they said in unison.

No matter what time Hauck arrives home each night, which during the season and while recruiting is in the wee hours of the morning, the coach always finds time to crack open a book. He often reads historical fiction by writer Leon Uris, and his face lights up when talking about Uris’ books “Trinity” and “Redemption.”

“I starting reading (daily) at a young age,” Hauck said. “One of the cool things coming into the schools is being able to convey that to the kids. A lot of us got in a habit of reading at a young age and it became a lifetime habit.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.