This spring, students and program advisors from across the Midwest punted, passed, kicked, and rubbed elbows with current and former NFL players, all as a reward for their great efforts in Fuel Up to Play 60 this school year.
The Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Training Camps were held in April and May in seven different Midwest states. In addition to NFL player appearances, the invite-only events also featured nutrition activities, high energy drills and skills, and presentations from real life dairy farmers. The schools received invitations by completing the Six Step Milestones and having at least one student submit a student ambassador application.
Nebraska kicked-off the Reward Training Camps on Tuesday, April 9, when 150 middle school students and 40 program advisors from 21 schools gathered at Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. They were joined by former Nebraska Cornhusker and recent Cincinnati Bengal draft pick, Rex Burkhead, and former Cornhusker and current New York Giant, Prince Amukamara. The day featured fun and games, a visit from Kansas City Chiefs’ mascot, KC Wolf, as well as lessons in healthy eating and active lifestyle choices.
On Friday, April 19, 99 students and 10 program advisors from 10 schools in the St. Louis area and southern Illinois gathered at the St. Louis Rams practice facility, where they heard a presentation from dairy farmer Kurt Johnson from Greenville, Ill. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlien delivered the keynote speech. Rams nutritionist, Shawn Zell, also spoke on healthy eating, and the students put their knowledge to work with the “Healthy Lunchtime Relay” game.
In Minnesota, approximately 160 students and 40 program advisors from 30 schools gathered on Tuesday, April 30 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings. The students participated in breakfast and lunch tray relays, a series of authentic pre-game warm-up football drills, poster-making and brainstorming sessions, and tours of the Metrodome locker room facilities. The students also interacted with Viktor, the Vikings’ mascot, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, and heard presentations from Kristine Spadgenske, a Minnesota dairy farmer, Minnesota’s current student ambassador and program advisors of the year, and Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings quarterback.
Also on April 30, nearly 200 students and 25 program advisors from the Kansas City area gathered at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. Assisted by 35 volunteer “coaches” from Mid-America Nazarene University, a partner of Kansas Action for Healthy Kids, the students heard from Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt and defensive lineman Mike DeVito, who explained how proper nutrition and staying active played a major role in helping them reach the NFL.
On Thursday, May 2, Iowa students and program advisors gathered at Kinnick Stadium, home of the Iowa Hawkeyes, where they competed in nutrition Jeopardy, series of authentic pre-game warm-up football drills, and tours of the stadium (including the famous pink visitors’ locker room.) They were joined by Herky, the Iowa team mascot, and heard from top nutritionists on healthy eating. Hawkeye head football coach Kirk Ferentz also shared the importance of staying active and eating a balanced diet. Tony Moeaki, a former Hawkeye and current tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, appeared in a series of videos during the event to encourage students to use the information they gain from Fuel Up to Play 60 to live healthy, active lives.
On Saturday, May 4, approximately 135 students and 34 program advisors from northern Illinois/Chicago area gathered at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Students caught passes on the field with current Bear Craig Steltz and Bears alumni player Anthony Morgan. Steltz also gave a great welcome to the students, and Morgan delivered an inspiring keynote speech, where he shared his personal experiences and motivated students to keep fueling up to play 60. The students also enjoyed a Bears locker room visit which included a photo opportunity with Morgan, as well as a trivia challenge.
On May 14, students and program advisors from Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma gathered at Jones Center in Springdale, Ark. Participants took part in nutrition and physical activity sessions including, “Free the Football,” led by Dr. Blair Dean, Professor in Health, Physical Education, and Sport Sciences at Arkansas State University. Students also ran in a lunch tray relay and partook in a nutrition discussion led by nutrition experts Monica Stewart and Rachel Casebier. Students also interacted with NFL referee Walt Coleman, NFL alumni player Steve Conley and dairy farmers Tim and Nikki Crawley and Susan Anglin.