Approximately 50 student-athletes and coaches took part in Sooner Jr. event
NORMAN, Okla. -
There aren't too many reasons a kid would want to go back to school after being in class most of the day, away from games and playing with friends.
But more than 400 children and their families were excited to do just that Thursday night as they participated in the University of Oklahoma's Sooner Jr. Program at Jefferson Elementary and met some of their favorite Sooner athletes while learning about the four aspects of the Sooner Jr. program - fitness fun, academics, nutrition and sportsmanship.
OU student-athletes, coaches and members of the Spirit Squad set up various stations around the school to interact with the students and teach them about important aspects of each of the four areas. Activities included word games, a mini-basketball shooting station, a healthy foods table and role playing.
Jefferson principal Kathy Taber expressed surprise at the huge turnout and was happy to see so many families learning together.
"We prepared for 200 people and we've had 450-plus," Taber said. "We are sharing good family information, but in a way that's fun and everybody wants to do it. There are families coming in tonight that we never see at school, so having these guys and girls here is a big motivator."
Doug and Julie Farthing brought their two girls, Bethany and Carissa, to the event and expressed how much their young daughters enjoyed the learning through a puzzle activity in one area and health in another.
"They had a lot of fun," said Julie. "A lot of kids were definitely looking up to the athletes. I think it makes them happy to have people pay attention to them. It was an awesome turnout tonight."
The stop was one of many the Sooner Jr. Program will be making to elementary schools around the Norman area during the month of February as part of OU's community outreach program seeking to help children learn skills and live a healthy lifestyle.
Buddy Hield and James Fraschilla from the men's basketball team helped students how to be good sports on the court through a role play. Fraschilla pushed Hield down during a hypothetical game, then talked about how to show correct sportsmanship by playing clean and respecting your opponent.
"The best part is seeing the smiles on the kids' faces," Hield said. "They look up to us, and we want to be role models to them. They support us so much on the basketball court that we want to give back to the community."
OU rower Becca Winchester helped students learn addition and multiplication skills through card games in the academic center. After coming from a small town and looking up to Sooner student-athletes when she was young, Winchester was happy to be with the students that now look up to her.
"I just really like working with kids," Winchester said. "I saw some of the kids using the things they learned in the sportsmanship portion of tonight in their games and high-fiving each other afterwards. The kids respond really well to this program. It's a great initiative."
Cole Stevens, a member of the OU baseball team, stated that he liked being with the kids as much as they liked being with him.
"It's fun, it's like being a kid again," Stevens said. "I wanted to get out in the community and put a smile on someone's face, whether it be a kid or an adult. They're learning, using their minds and putting it to good things."
For more information on the Sooner Jr. Program, contact Meaghan Brooks at 405-325-8465.