SLAM DUNK: Troy hosts Mathsketball weekend

Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Troy University women’s basketball team is connecting basketball and math this weekend for local middle school students.

While the connection between mathematics and basketball might not seem like a slam dunk to some, a group of seventh and eighth-grade girls from Pike County are learning the role math plays in sports during “Mathsketball 2019” this weekend at Troy University.

The event, made possible through a grant from the Mathematical Association of America’s Tensor Women and Mathematics Program, brought students from Charles Henderson, Goshen, Pike Liberal Arts and Pike County middle schools to campus on Friday and Saturday. The program is led by Dr. Ken Roblee, professor and chair of Troy’s Department of Mathematics with assistance from mathematics lecturer Michelle Armstrong.

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On Friday, participants heard from members of the Troy women’s basketball team, including head coach Chanda Rigby and assistant coach Jennifer Graff about the collection of statistical data and how that factors into the formulation of scouting reports and game plans. A member of Troy’s athletic media relations staff also addressed the group Friday afternoon.

On Saturday, the group will tour Trojan Arena, take part in follow-up learning activities, pose for a group photo and attend the Troy women’s basketball game against the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

“The focus is to expose students to the basic skills of data collection, organization and analysis that are used in sports such as basketball,” Roblee said. “Research indicates that these grades represent a time for which girls may lose interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) opportunities. Mathsketball is a way to bring awareness and education in a real-life setting to show how mathematics can be used in sports, thus showing a relevance for the mathematics they learn in their classes.”

Coach Rigby and her staff are glad to be taking part in the program.

“We are excited to be involved with the Mathsketball program,” she said. “I don’t think people realize what a huge part math plays in what we do in college athletics. This will be a fun way to bring the importance of math in athletics to the forefront with talented young leaders.”

Roblee, who serves as the program’s director, said his department hopes to continue the event in the future.

“The Department of Mathematics plans to continue this initiative in future years to encourage middle school-age girls to continue their studies further in mathematics,” Roblee said. “We would hope to expand it in the future to include more participants, as the event gains popularity.”