AP NEWS

Copperfield students ‘fuel up’ on fun

April 16, 2019

Copperfield Elementary School students ran, threw, jumped, cut, and dashed across the school grounds Friday, as the national Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign came to town.

An in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council and NFL in conjunction with the USDA, Fuel Up to Play 60 uses the recreational benefits of football to help encourage kids to lead healthier lives. The Dallas Cowboys participated in the local mini camp.

Copperfield is the first school in San Antonio to receive the program’s mini camp on its campus, Copperfield coach Jessica Kessel said.

“Fuel Up has different steps we have to complete. Usually it’s something like a healthy challenge, and if you complete the challenge, and then you get put in a drawing,” Kessel said. “This is one of the things that we won.”

The Dallas Cowboys mini camp staff provided all equipment and a lead instructor to help Copperfield successfully stage the mini camp. Ten football drill stations were set up on school grounds, including a quarterback net throw, quick foot ladder and various drills that would be a part of professional football camp. Parent volunteers manned the stations.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders then flowed through the mini-camp drill stations after watching about 10 minutes of instructional videos that utilized Muppet-like characters to explain and enforce the four food groups, healthy eating and the need to exercise daily. The program’s name derives from the need to get proper nutrition in order to be active for 60 minutes every day.

The students were then split into groups and led out to the drill stations. Each group spent five minutes at a station before rotating on to the next station. The design, Kessel said, was so a student would spend about 60 minutes going through fun-filled football drills as a form of exercise.

Former NFL player Nakia Codie acted as overseer for the mini-camp. While he is now employed by the Dallas Cowboys to host the Fuel Up mini camps, he was actually a Pittsburgh Steeler back in his playing days. He spent four years with the Steelers organization, including the 2000 season on the active roster. Once his playing days were over, the Baylor University alum returned to his hometown area of Cleburne, in the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex region.

“I came back home to Dallas and learned about the opportunity to come work with the kids,” Codie said. “I do a lot of football camps and the Fuel Up to Play 60. This is all about teaching kids to eat the right foods — protein, vegetables, fruits and dairy — to make sure they are at their best in the classroom and also on the playing field.”

Codie reflected on his youth and how sometimes the professional athlete does not always start out as “the gifted” student in class.

“Actually, at their age, I was one of the last, one of the slowest ones,’ Codie said. “I tried out for track and didn’t make it. I tried out for eighth-grade football and was on the B-team,” he said. “I made the basketball team but sat on the bench, but was only playing about two minutes a game.

“I was smart, though, I always got good grades and I worked hard, harder than most. But it wasn’t until my sophomore year,” he said, “that I actually grew into my body and got stronger, and faster.”

During the Fuel Up mini camp, Codie engages in drills with the kids. He guards them on the WR catch drill. He lined up opposite students in the short shuttle drill. He got in line and ran the step over hurdles drill with the kids.

“At this age, I was probably one of the worst athletes you’d ever seen. I couldn’t catch, I was one of the slowest … you wouldn’t think that, with me going to the NFL,” he said. “But I was always one of the last kids that got picked when it came time to play when I was young.

“That’s why I can relate to these kids who I can tell don’t play a lot of sports, and don’t get a lot of physical activity on a daily basis. I was the same way,” he added.

jflinn@express-news.net