Six members of the Raiders offensive line helped lead a Play 60 Gatorade Junior Training Camp at Washington Elementary School in San Leandro, Calif.
“The Raiders for the last three years have come to our campus to work with our fourth- and fifth-graders to encourage children to get out and get active and stay healthy,” said Principal Tracy Lantz. “They have brought a number of activities for our students to run drills and practice different skills that I guess the Raiders do during their practice activities.”
The Raiders front line had fun playing outside and spending time with the students. “We were just playing with these kids out here and they were awesome,” said Wisniewski. “They were so excited and gave a lot of great effort. We were really having fun. We’re just trying to show them the importance of exercise, part of the NFL Play 60 program, and Gatorade sponsored it, and it was a really great event.”
The kids rotated through five different stations focusing on a variety of football skills. “We got a chance to work with a bunch of fourth- and fifth-graders on some football drills,” said Veldheer. “They had a lot of fun. We showed them some footwork stuff and some tackling drills and some ball handling stuff and I think everyone had a great time, the kids, the players, everyone involved. It was a great experience and it was fun getting out and showing these guys how to play football.”
The players hope their visit motivated the students to get outside, play and be healthy. “I think work ethic in life helps everything and these kids…get them off the couch,” said Brisiel. “It’s just good to get outside activities going and I think this promotes it pretty well.”
Parsons recognized the importance of a healthy lifestyle and addressing it with kids early. “It’s absolutely important,” said Parsons. “You need to be active. We have an obesity issue in the United States and being active is [important].”
The offensive linemen also wanted to make sure the students of Washington Elementary school knew the Raiders supported them. “I think it’s just a way to show them that someone cares about them,” said Wisniewski. “It shows that we care. We’re busy, it’s football season, they’re just excited to see there’s someone there to give them a high-five and cheer them on. You can see in their eyes that it means a lot to them.”
“It’s great being able to come out here and hang out with the kids and see them smile and look up to you and really try to take in what you’re trying to tell them,” added Veldheer. “It’s very special being able to help them that way and make their day. It makes our day too so it’s great all around.”
While the Raiders wanted to relay the important message of playing 60, they also wanted to have a good time with the kids. “It’s just exciting to see the kids and to pass on a little fun and to be a kid in a grown man’s body,” said Parsons.
“It’s fun for me just to come out,” said Bergstrom. “It’s more fun to come out and play with the kids and it’s a good time.”
In addition to promoting exercise and having a bit of fun, the Raiders presence also inspired some of the students. “We’re really grateful that they took the time to come out and be here with us,” said Principal Lantz. “We have a number of students that are really into football and have their eye on going to different colleges and universities because of their love of football and I think this just inspires to stay connected to school and be healthy and possibly playing football in the future if they choose to.”
Washington Elementary enjoyed and appreciated the Raiders visit. “We’re really grateful that they come back every year and are so connected to the community and really help the kids stay engaged and find meaning behind being active and being healthy,” said Principal Lantz. “We’re happy to have them here and we look forward to continuing our connection with the organization.”