Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Kindergarteners at nearby College Park Elementary School recently raced to good health with help and inspiration from their teacher, former UNCW swimming and diving standout Melissa Milstead.

Milstead, the Colonial Athletic Association’s Swimming and Diving Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year for two straight years in 2006 and 2007, encouraged her class to exercise by running for two years in a row.

Last year, Milstead’s first grade class ran a 26.2-mile marathon and this year, her kindergarteners have done the same. Milstead’s class of five and six-year-olds started their marathon in January and kept count of their laps around the track until they reached the distance of a full marathon.

“If you ask them, they’ll tell you ‘I’m exercising my heart,’” said Milstead of her kindergarten class. “They even ask to run laps.”

Milstead, who has run competitively in marathons and tackled triathlons, was also the recipient of the school’s Chancellor’s Cup Award for Academic Excellence following her senior year at UNCW.

“She’s having a tremendous influence on the lives of her students and enabling them to feel good about themselves,” said UNCW Head Swimming and Diving Coach Dave Allen of his former student-athlete. “She’s giving them a head start on learning a healthy lifestyle, which can carry them through the rest of their lives.”

The College Park Elementary students even helped pass out medals to this year’s 2011 Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon winners. In fact, Milstead’s class received identical medals to reward them on completion of their own marathon.

Milstead was excited to get her class involved and was proud to watch her students complete their goal for the second year in a row.

“Doing this is really great because it gets them excited about exercising and having a healthy lifestyle, while promoting cooperation and support for one another.”

Submitted by UNCW Athletics Intern, Erin Hamil