UI REACH program helps Center Point native land dream internship with women’s basketball team

Published: Apr. 8, 2023 at 11:39 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Cooper Reaves of Center Point is known as the number one hype guy on the Iowa women’s basketball team. Reaves grew up playing basketball and even helped his dad coach his sister’s team.

“Me and my parents, my sister - we all love to play basketball. It’s the number one sport we like to play. We like to watch it, the excitement,” he explained.

The sophomore is interested in a career in sports statistics. This winter he served as a student manager for the women’s basketball team.

“I’ve always wanted to be in sports. It’s the number one thing I’ve wanted to be in,” he said.

Reaves is in charge of running the shot clock during practices, helping with drills, but he’s most known for his positivity and goofiness.

“For Taylor McCabe, he’ll call her McCabester. It’s really fun,” junior guard Kylie Feuerbach. “For me, it was like ‘fear the Feuerbach.’ For Molly {Davis}, it will be ‘machine gun Molly.’ He’ll do that during those free throw times. Even throughout the practice, he’s constantly supportive and dancing, keeping everybody really excited and hyped up.

Reaves’ dream internship was made possible through the UI REACH program which strives to give college-aged students with intellectual, cognitive and learning disabilities a full college experience.

“Our country’s history with people with disabilities has not been a stellar one, but our goal is to change some of that. Make sure that people with disabilities have a seat at the table and have full inclusion and participation,” UI REACH Director William Loyd Jr. said.

On top of their traditional courses, REACH students take classes on things such as career preparation and independent living.

“They are taking classes anywhere from pickleball at the Field House, to some students are taking it health related classes,” Loyd Jr. said. “Some are learning to be assistants in the classroom through some para education training. The variety is there. We try to base it on the students individual interests.”

The program also connects REACH students with traditional students. Feuerbach started volunteering in UI REACH classes last year. This season when Reaves joined the women’s basketball program, Cooper and Kylie have grown closer.

“Within our team, we already have a positive environment, but having him adding to that is really all you need. He helps keep things calm, he’s always there for you when you need him and he’s a great light to our team,” Feuerbach said.

She believes these connections are valuable for all students.

“Iowa in itself, the women’s basketball program is top tier. Positivity, optimistic and everybody just works really well together. So having him be able to experience that along with us and being able to enjoy it as much as we do, is really fun for him. Obviously, for us too,” Feuerbach said.

“Students like Kylie are making a difference in showing hey, these are people too. They have the same emotions and feelings that all of us have and we’d like them to be a part of the Hawkeye experience here on campus,” Loyd Jr. said.

Being a part of this team has meant the world to Reaves.

“It’s so much fun being with these guys, it’s like a dream come true,” Reaves said.