Coach Combs makes a difference at Carroll University

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Superhero day at Whittier Elementary School. A fitting time for coach Paul Combs and the Carroll University men's basketball team to drop by. Coach Combs and the team partnered with SHARP Literacy to create "Reading with the Pios."

"We always talk about as a program, coaching from the heart to the heart, and that's what this is. The smiles on the kids' faces, not only the Whittier students, but our student athletes."

"It brings inspiration. It brings excitement. It brings curiosity. It brings motivation. It makes them feel really special," adds SHARP's president and CEO Lynda Kohler.

It's a volunteer program, but the entire team volunteers. Each and every week.

Senior Justin Gruber has been a part of the program for years. "When I was that age, how cool it would be to have college athletes coming in. I remember being that age. It grounds you a bit. What you do and what you say matters and impacts the kids."

This past December, Carroll and SHARP planned a "Holiday Happiness" event, too. The team went on a $200 shopping spree with 40 Whittier students.

While helping the next generation, the student-athletes are also getting guidance from the players who came before them. That's the goal behind Coach Combs' Sixth Man Club, a way for alumni and business leaders in the community to mentor the current team and set them up for success off the court.

Combs says the program is, "about building trusting relationships in the community and showing our players what success looks like. Also giving them other outlets to hit the ground running once they get their diploma."

Justin Gruber says the Sixth Man Club and coach Combs helped him get a full-time job while playing and studying.

"I give him all the credit in the world for helping me become the person I am today. He's been a mentor. I can't thank him enough."

Combs says his goal as a coach is to help 18-year-old kids grow into quality people. Through the Sixth Man Club, Reading with the Pios and his on the court guidance, that's exactly what he's been doing at Carroll for nearly a decade.

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