KANSAS CITY — The smiles on all the faces of kids running across the outfield grass at Kauffman Stadium said everything one needs to know about the event the Royals’ held for area youth on Thursday afternoon.
The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and their PLAY campaign (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth), in partnership with the Taylor Hooton Foundation — a nonprofit that strives to educate youth about the dangers of anabolic steroids — hosted a day of outdoor fitness and wellness education at The K.
After two years away from the ballpark because of the coronavirus pandemic, PBATS and the Royals welcomed 25-30 kids from the Kansas City area, including some from the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy, to participate in on-field activities and learn about the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.
“If we can send a message to even one or two kids about staying active and eating healthy foods, that’s a good thing,” Royals head athletic trainer Kyle Turner said. “The Royals are as involved in the community as any team in baseball, and to have kids back out on the field after two years off with COVID-19, it’s fantastic seeing the smiles as they run around on the field here and play. And just a great message to send from PBATS and the Taylor Hooton Foundation. You forget how much you enjoy it until it comes back.”
The day began with a lesson on the dangers of drugs, especially in sports, from Brian Parker, the director of education at the Taylor Hooton Foundation. Several pro athletes are involved in the foundation, including Royals first baseman/outfielder Hunter Dozier, promoting the message of achieving athletic goals “the right way,” Parker said.
Then the group split into three stations and rotated around throughout the day. In the Royals’ dugout, assistant athletic trainer Chris DeLucia spoke about the importance of nutrition as kids shouted out examples of healthy meals and snacks they could choose over unhealthy options. In the Royals’ bullpen and right field, assistant strength and conditioning coach Luis Perez and outfielder Edward Olivares worked with kids on mobility drills.
“The message about staying healthy and getting outside to move around is awesome,” Dalton Edwards said as his three kids raced around cones in the outfield. “Play multiple sports, all that. I know the kids are enjoying it, and I love watching them have fun. We’re big Royals fans, so this opportunity to be on the field, too, it definitely gets them more excited about what we’re doing here.”
And in the visiting bullpen and left field, assistant athletic trainer Dave Iannicca and reliever Jake Brentz showed kids how to properly stretch and warm up for physical activity.
“To be able to be out here with these kids, who have the same dream as all of us had growing up, it’s just special,” Brentz said. “And the message is important. Nutrition, having a healthy lifestyle, that’s all so key. It’s really important to do whatever we can to promote that message to these kids, make sure they can learn something today while having fun.”
The day finished with autographs and photo opportunities with Brentz and Olivares, and the group got a surprise visit from Slugger, the Royals’ mascot. Several families had plans to attend Thursday night’s game against the Orioles, while the PLAY Campaign continues its tour around MLB ballparks this season.
ARTICLE SOURCE: https://www.mlb.com/news/royals-play-campaign-at-kauffman-stadium