You are the owner of this article.

West End 5th-graders train like NFL players in Falcons Junior Training Camp

  • ()

West End fifth-graders got a little taste of how it feels to train like an NFL football player as they spent an hour going through the Atlanta Falcons Junior Training Camp.

Representatives from the Falcons traveled to Rome on Thursday to set up the training camp, which consisted of four stations modeled after drills team members go through during training.

West End Elementary is one of 35 schools participating in a fitness initiative sponsored by the NFL and the Fal­cons. The program is called FitnessGram and is a youth fitness assessment, educating and reporting tool. Schools that are selected are provided equipment grants and incentives as rewards for administering the FitnessGram to students in the fall and spring.

“We track our fitness levels and submit them,” explained Jared Hughes, coach at West End. “This is a great program from a school’s standpoint, because it tracks the fitness level at age-appropriate levels. The fitness level across the country has dropped so much for young people and this is a great tool.”

As part of the initiative, representatives from the Falcons travel to the schools and set up four or five stations in the gymnasium. Stu­dents come in and participate in the drills as well as a pep talk and a little dance competition between the students and teachers who’ve assembled to help out with the activities.

Quinton Cole, community relations coordinator for the Falcons, is the leader of the training camp.

“The main thing about this program is that it offers a way for the students to be active and stay active for an hour,” Cole said. “Kids love to play, plus they love the chance to get out of class.”

Cole said this part of his job is especially rewarding.

“The kids are all smiles when they see the stations set up,” he said. “It’s always a joy to see them and work with them.”

Hughes said students were looking forward to the experience and the whole school participated in some way to get the school ready for the visit.

“Our students all made signs welcoming the Falcons reps here,” he said. “With how successful the team was this year, the excitement and hype was even better.”

The students were not completely unfamiliar with the drills, either, Hughes added.

“We do similar things during our field days and many of our students who participate in the football program understand what to do, even though you do not have to be a football player to enjoy this at all,” he said.