On a scorching Wednesday morning in the nation’s capital, All-Star Matt Capps and reliever Drew Storen could have been at home sleeping with the air conditioning blasting away. Instead, the late inning relievers got up early and braved the heat to teach nearly 100 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington about baseball and healthy lifestyles.
“You get to hopefully teach these kids something that will affect them for the rest of their lives,” said Matt Capps. “Kids are [always] in front of a tv screen or playing video games. Their health and their bodies are paying the price. We can show them that you can have fun playing outside and really enjoy yourself.”
The PLAY Clinic, a project of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, aims to combat childhood obesity and other health related problems by promoting physical exercise to youth in each of Major League Baseball’s 30 cities. The Nationals set up stations to work on stretching, agility and speed and finally, pitching with Capps and Storen. At the end of the event, each child took pitches from the relievers during a home run derby.
“When I was their age, I was out playing,” Storen said. “It’s one of the reasons I love baseball so much. I played front yard baseball, that’s how I learned that I loved to pitch. Video games are fun and everything, but get out and play.”
The event included a presentation from the Taylor Hooton Foundation about the dangers of steroids. Taylor’s father Don talked to the children about what steroids do to the body, explained his own son’s battle with the substances and answered questions from the kids. Each participant received a pledge card promising to remain active, make smart life choices and avoid performance enhancing drugs.
The Play program, “Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth,” was created in 2004. To date, they’ve conducted over 80 events with children.
Nationals Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz was instrumental in putting the clinic together. A huge proponent of physical activity, Kuntz encourages parents to take an active role in the health of their children. He taught the children to participate in a variety of sports or even dance -- whatever keeps them interested, active and healthy.
For more photos from the event, visit MASN’s Facebook page.