Learning on the Field: Lakemont Students Work Out with NFL Pro Bowlers

Lakemont Elementary School principal, Dr. Brenda Cunningham, has been a longtime supporter of health and wellness initiatives at the school, so it was no surprise she approved a field trip for over 100 Lakemont Elementary students to spend the day learning on the field with NFL Pro Bowl players.

Lakemont students gather before the Play 60 clinic.

The opportunity to participate in the PLAY 60 clinic was presented to Dr. Cunningham by Jon Siegel, PE Teacher and Healthy School Team Leader at Lakemont Elementary. As a program advisor for Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) – a joint program between the NFL and the Dairy Council – Coach Siegel is provided with monthly opportunities to engage his students in healthy eating and physical activity. Due to Coach Siegel and his school’s high level of engagement with FUTP60, Lakemont Elementary was a clear choice for the Dairy Council of Florida to invite to the PLAY 60 clinic.

“I couldn’t pass on this [PLAY 60 clinic] opportunity for our students.  When I read the description, I knew it would be an amazing opportunity for them,” Coach Siegel said about receiving the PLAY 60 clinic invitation from the Dairy Council of Florida. “My expectations were blown out of the water when I saw the students interacting with the NFL Pro Bowl players during the clinic. This will be something these kids never forget.”

While the clinic was free, Coach Siegel had to secure funds for transportation and lunch. Utilizing his strong relationships with the community, Coach Siegel was able to obtain donations from the Winter Park Health Foundation and money from a box top program to fully cover the cost of transportation.

Students receive coaching from one of the AFC Pro Bowl players.

Lunch was a bit of a different story.  Walt Disney World strictly enforces a “no outside food” policy, leaving an option of the students either not eating until they returned to school late in the afternoon or paying much more than they are accustomed to in order to purchase lunch on property. Coach Siegel didn’t feel as though either was a viable option, so he asked business partners to provide lunch to the students and adult volunteers.  After numerous conversations, Coach Siegel was able to confirm a free lunch for all Lakemont Elementary participants, provided by the NFL.

With transportation and lunch taken care of, 100 Lakemont Elementary students and 15 adult volunteers were able to focus on having fun at the PLAY 60 clinic, held at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports on January 26. The clinic consisted of nine stations where students ran drills — such as passing, running, and tackling — for about an hour with a number of the NFL’s elite experts.

“I can’t wait to see NFL players and play football with them,” Jamarcus Pugh stated. “When I go back to school, I’m going to tell all my friends who I met.”

The fourth-grade Pop Warner football player is a football fanatic.  “I’ve wanted to be an NFL player my whole life,” he stated. “I watch football, I watch recorded football. And I play it every single day.”

A group of Lakemont students celebrate a successful skill station.

Melissa Schiller, who works in group relations for the NFL, stated, “That is in all probability the one time they will get to interact with an NFL player and they’re interacting with the best of the best with the Pro Bowl. I really like smiles on the kids’ faces. I feel it is as nice for the players as it is for the kids. You will see the players having just as much fun as the kids are.”

Schiller stated the clinic is a part of a much bigger movement for the NFL.  “PLAY 60 is about promoting youth health and wellness. Through PLAY 60, the NFL encourages kids to get active for 60 minutes a day,” she stated.

Players like Rodney Hudson, center for the Oakland Raiders, stated he finds the clinics to be rewarding. “It’s about helping the kids have an amazing time,” stated Hudson, an offensive lineman who played at Florida State. “Having an impact on them and having fun. That is what it is about: having fun.”

Lakemont students with AFC Pro Bowl cheerleaders.

When asked what he’ll remember about the PLAY 60 clinic, Pugh said, “Everything, I’ll never forget this day.”

PLAY 60 is the NFL’s campaign to promote youth health and wellness, aimed at encouraging kids to get active for 60 minutes a day. For more information, visit NFLRUSH.com/PLAY60.