SD Sockers captain Aaron Susi explains a training move to Cajon Park School students as Eduardo Velez looks on.
Soccer News: SD Sockers Players Talk Health and Fitness with Santee Students
Aaron Susi and Eduardo Velez Visit Cajon Park School to Encourage Students to Be Active and Eat Right
While dedicated youth soccer players are usually in excellent physical condition, the same can’t always be said of all of our children. Over the years there has been increased attention paid to the amount of physical activity children get – or don’t get – on a daily basis. While kids won’t always listen to parents or teachers about the importance of being active and following a healthy lifestyle, they often will pay attention to professional athletes when they tell them.
With that in mind, on Thursday, February 16, San Diego Sockers stars Aaron Susi and Eduardo Velez and former San Diego Charger Vencie Glenn spent part of their afternoon talking health and fitness with students from Cajon Park School in Santee, Calif. It was the school’s first annual Health and Fitness Fair, organized by Vice Principal Suzie Martin in conjunction with the Santee School District and the NFL Play 60 Program. The event featured several stations where students were able to dribble a soccer ball, shoot a basketball, take part in a mini obstacle course, and hear about the benefits of exercise and good nutrition.
Not just a one-day activity, the Health and Fitness Fair was the culmination of a month-long focus on health and nutrition that the students have been participating in. “This is something we have designed in collaboration with the NFL Play 60 Program activities, in that we want our students to be active 60 minutes a day,” Vice Principal Martin explained.
“We’re encouraging our kids in grades 6 through 8 to be involved," she continued, "so for the past three weeks they have been monitoring their own activity in journals. We want them to get 60 minutes of activity at recess time, PE time or even at home. Today is actually an entire fair that we have dedicated to health and fitness.”
Joe Spencer, a parent and a member of the Santee School District Wellness Committee, helped to organize the NFL Play 60 Program in the district. “We wanted to have events at each school, so Ms. Martin decided she wanted to have a mini-health fair. I had talked with former Charger Vencie Glenn from the beginning. He’s a motivational speaker who goes out and speaks with kids, and he said he wanted to be a part of this. I also reached out to the San Diego Sockers and John Kentera and he wanted them to be a part, so he got Aaron Susi and Eduardo Velez to come out here.”
|Students run drills under Aaron Susi's watchful eye.
||Eduardo "El Vaquero" Velez corrects a student's footwork.
For about 15 minutes Susi and Velez took each group of students through some basic dribbling and footwork. The pair showed off some of the skills that have helped the Sockers run up a spectacular 32-game winning streak and a currently undefeated record at the Del Mar Arena. After the mini training session, the players talked to the students about the importance of choosing the right foods and getting enough exercise.
Between groups of students, Susi and Velez talked about the importance of being out in the community and working with kids, such as the students at Cajon Park School.
“It’s always good to give back to the kids,” said Susi. “These are the things that made me look up to soccer players and other athletes when I was younger in school, seeing them come and work with us and teach about being healthy. It’s good that I can do the same for these kids. We talked to them a little about eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, and we’re teaching them some basic dribbling skills.”
|Susi and Velez sign autographs after their session.
Velez, who has young children of his own, said, “It’s always great being out with the kids. I love having the opportunity. I love to play around with the kids and have fun with them. We’re talking with them about being healthy and eating healthy food, which is important.”
The students clearly enjoyed spending time with the two players, crowding around for autographs before being herded on to the next station by teachers. Justin, a seventh-grade student at Cajon Park who has played AYSO in Lakeside, said, “It’s been an amazing experience.”
Janae, another seventh-grade student, agreed. “It was cool seeing the two players,” she said. “They were really good and definitely professional.”
After each session every student received a voucher for a ticket at the Sockers’ next home game on Saturday, February 25, against the Tacoma Stars. At that game San Diego could be playing to surpass the LA Lakers string of 33 consecutive victories.
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