The Hog Mollies are ready to excite second-graders about reading

Superintendent Stan Jefferson looks at the latest Hog Mollies book, “The Hog Mollies and Little Lily’s Legacy,” with Amy Hoying, executive director of the 2nd and 7 Foundation, and Renda Cline, president of the board of education.

      What’s that? You've never heard of the Hog Mollies – Duke, Sprout, Hoppy and Harley? Well then, read on…

      The Hog Mollies are cute and colorful characters in a series of children’s books designed to encourage second-graders to read. Superintendent Stan Jefferson said the Hog Mollies soon will be regular visitors in every second-grade classroom in Mansfield City Schools.

      The books, which now number 12, are the product of the 2nd and 7 Foundation started 20 years ago by former Ohio State University football players Mike Vrabel, Luke Fickell and Ryan Miller, who frequently read to elementary school children while enrolled at OSU. The foundation’s name references the familiar down and distance term used in football.

      Hog Mollies is the nickname given to huge football linemen.

      From its origin in Columbus the 2nd and 7 Foundation’s “Tackling illiteracy” program has grown to 200 locations in 26 states. Student athletes and school personnel other than teachers read to second-graders, then each student gets to take home a free copy of the Hog Mollies book.

      Each book contains a life-lesson storyline, such as kindness and helping others.

      Amy Hoying, executive director of the 2nd and 7 Foundation, explained the program to district principals and other administrators Wednesday at the invitation of Superintendent Jefferson, a member of the Buckeyes coaching staff for 13 years.

      “This is a beautiful project and I am so happy that we can bring it to our second-graders,” Jefferson said. “Our goal is to increase literacy by getting our kids excited about reading.”

      Jefferson said central office administrators will commit to reading to second-grade classrooms twice a month. He also plans to involve Mansfield Senior High student athletes as readers and positive role models.

      “Each time a Hog Mollies book is read to a second-grade classroom, every student will receive a free copy to take home,” Jefferson said. “By the end of the school year each boy and girl will have a complete set to read and re-read.”

      The 2nd and 7 Foundation is supported by donations from individuals and corporations. Since 1999 more than 400,000 free books have been distributed.

      The books are not about Ohio State, but they contain several Buckeye references. Principal Frank is named after former Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer whose middle name is Frank. The Hog Molly named Hoppy refers to former Ohio State and NFL player Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, while Hog Molly Harley is a reference to Charles “Chic” Harley, whose widely publicized feats on the football field led to the construction of Ohio Stadium.

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