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You can look up to him

Kevin Pittsnogle wows Gerrardstown school

Kevin Pittsnogle wows Gerrardstown school

April 08, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

If big, broad smiles were inches, the students in Pam Gess's kindergarten class at Gerrardstown Elementary School would surely have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with West Virginia University senior Kevin Pittsnogle during his appearance at the southern Berkeley County, W.Va. school Friday.

As it was, the 17 students, who ranged in height from the nearly 7-foot Mountaineer's elbow to his hand, seemed happy just to stand in his shadow as Gess took turns taking his picture with each of them following a read-aloud in her class by the big homegrown hero, a native of Martinsburg and a graduate of Martinsburg High School.

"It was cool," said Zachary Kessler of the visit by the popular player. Kessler then took a minute to demonstrate his layup during a brief interview outside the classroom.

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"That's my best move," he said. "But I can't jam yet."

Gess, who with her students invited Pittsnogle to read to the students as part of the school's own West Virginia Day celebration, said she too is a big fan of Number 34.

"I watched him because he's a hometown boy and I like what he stands for," Gess said standing in front of a wall next to her room that was covered with articles and pictures of the basketball player's on-court exploits.

Pittsnogle, who was joined in his visit by his mother, Tammy, and wife, Heather, who brought along the couple's 2-month old son, Kwynsie, was later serenaded by the class. The students, led by Gess, sung John Denver's "Country Roads" to him. The class later presented him with a number of gifts, including a jersey that might have been a tad undersized, and a full stack of Mountaineer team photographs for him to sign for the students.

"From the looks of it, everybody in the whole school is getting one," Pittsnogle laughed as the prints were handed to him.

Pittsnogle, who ranks 36th in career scoring at WVU and fifth in career three-point field goals at the school, according to MSNSports.net Web site, also took the time to engage in a show-and-tell with students, who asked him to explain the large ornate tattoos that adorned both arms and legs. He then fielded questions about his height.

Pittsnogle, who later took a room-by-room tour of the 173-student school to greet other classes, was asked if he ever hit his head going through doorways. He told students he's learned to duck.

Pittsnogle said he's soon off to Florida to work out in preparation for the NBA draft.

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