Sometimes the word “student” gets lost when we talk about student-athletes. We tend to judge players for their performance on the field rather than their work off of it.

That’s not the case for Cal running back Patrick Laird, who placed a heavy emphasis on education and reading over the summer months.

Prior to the start of summer, Laird created a “Summer Reading Challenge” program, attempting to build a large community of children and students who would make a commitment to reading. And after a summer of hitting the books, a community of 3,000 had the opportunity to see Laird in action for the Bears’ home opener.

“It was fun to see how many people showed up,” Laird said after Cal’s win over North Carolina. “I made sure that, when I spoke to everyone, this was all achieved because of reading. I really encouraged all the kids to continue to do that. It was great seeing the sections full and having them cheer the whole game.”

Laird has stayed in contact with members in the community through email, social media and by visiting schools in person to deliver his message. The Cal running back is certainly keeping the word “student” relevant in student-athlete.

Here’s the full clip from Cal Football, which shows Laird interacting with members of his “Summer Reading Challenge” after this weekend’s game.