Many people, young and old, would have wished to be Taylor Vetter when they were in the 5th grade and have the opportunity that she had on Tuesday when she went to school in a very uncommon way for most average kids.
Regardless of where you grew up or what sport you like best, can you imagine going to school with a professional sports icon?
For Taylor that opportunity came in the shape of Raiders defensive captain LB Kirk Morrison. Her dad, Tom Vetter, saw a commercial on the NFL Network and decided to have his daughter to enter the Take a Player to School contest. A few weeks later, having forgotten all about it, he received a call while on business in Seattle from the NFL telling him Taylor had been chosen as one of the kids to take part on the Take a Player to School program.
From that moment on it was a whole new learning experience for Taylor as she had no idea what she was in for. "Actually I did not know much about football so I spent a few hours doing research about him (Kirk)," said Taylor "And it was pretty amazing that he actually came here."
The day for Taylor got started when Kirk showed up at her house in a limousine to pick her up for school. "It was just amazing when I saw the limo coming up outside and saying, 'Oh, he really is here,'" Taylor said.
On the way over they chatted along with her parents and came up with a game plan of the activities that they were going to do with Taylor's classmates as well as determining how they would greet them once they got there. They took a simple approach of stepping out and waving as the rest of the 5th graders cheered them on as they walked over to the assembly.
Taylor and Kirk received a formal welcome from school officials and JC Penney representatives. Taylor then had the delight of introducing Kirk to her fellow classmates who responded with a loud cheer. To her it was just a big show and tell. "This was the best because when I was in 1st grade we did a show and tell and I just brought my favorite stuffed animal to share and this is way more important." noted Taylor.
Kirk addressed the group sharing stories of how he became a football player. He pointed out the importance of working hard at both school and athletics and making sure to always be active both inside and outside the classroom.
He then took some questions from students. Kirk was asked who was the most influential person in his life and he responded that it was his mother for always supporting him. Also, they asked him about his most memorable game and while he mentioned a few during the many levels of football that he has played, the one that stood out the most was his first NFL game because of the nervousness and jitters he had leading up to it which he compared to being on the first day at school, with new teammates, coaches and level of play.
After the formalities Kirk, Taylor and the rest of the class headed over to the basketball courts for warm-ups. They had four different stations of exercises that ranged from jumping rope and weight lifting to sprints and relays. Once they had all warmed up, they headed to the field to play a modified version of flag football combined with the game of tag where the kids would run from one station to the other trying to avoid losing their flag belt and scoring points once they reached the next station. If they got "tackled" they had to do 10 jumping jacks.
After having exercised for 60 minutes, Taylor took Kirk over to the principal's office and teacher lounge to meet some of the school's staff and faculty. Along the way Kirk signed autographs and posed for pictures with Taylor's classmates and kids from other grades as they came out for recess. In the end Taylor enjoyed her time with Kirk and was very happy to have shared this experience with her class and teacher, Sarah Landis, who was more than delighted to have Taylor among her students.
"It was a pretty incredible opportunity for the kids to see somebody that is so down to earth and able to get down at their level and play and hang out and just show how important it is to be healthy…to balance working hard and setting a goal and going for it. So it was awesome," said Landis.
As part of the program, the Sycamore Valley Elementary School received a $2,000 donation from the NFL and the JC Penney After School Fund and will use it towards sports gear for their physical education classes as part of the Play 60 initiative promoted by the NFL and its players like Morrison.