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University athletes, students hold fitness clinic for local preschool students
Head start
A Head Start preschool student gets a high-five from a Stanislaus State athlete volunteer after completing the hula hoop course during a fitness day held at the college campus on Friday. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Potential future students of Stanislaus State took the field Friday as the university held its annual Head Start sports fitness clinic that saw preschool students running, jumping and swinging their way toward healthier lifestyles.

Stanislaus State’s Office of Service Learning partnered with the men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams to bring a morning filled with fun, sports-related activities and tips on how to stay healthy. The university’s recreation field was transformed into various sports “stations,” including an obstacle course, a miniature golf driving range and a soccer ball shooting station.

“This clinic introduces Head Start families to the campus and instills in them that college is a great opportunity for their kids,” said event co-coordinator Brett Forray.

Approximately 120 Head Start students from Osborn Elementary, Wakefield Elementary, Crowell Elementary and Cunningham Elementary participated in games and activities with their parents in an effort to keep the community youth active. Event Director Julie Fox explained that each activity at the clinic is designed so that it can be easily duplicated by the students’ parents at home, giving them the opportunity to exercise on their own time as well.

“Moms had asked us, ‘What can we do for fun with the our kids?’” said Fox. “So we came up with all of these activities that can be replicated with the things that you have at home.”

Players from both the men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams and students involved in the school’s Kinesiology Department volunteered their time to help run each station. Men’s basketball player Joey Bennett has helped with the program for the past three years.

“It’s a way for us as players to give back to the community,” said Bennett. “They help us out by coming to our games, so we can give back to them through this.”

Many of the players who volunteer at the event hope to become coaches one day, said men’s basketball Head Coach Larry Reynolds. The clinic gives them the chance to test the coaching waters as they help children learn valuable athletic skills, all while having fun.

“It’s special to see the interaction between the kids and the players,” said Reynolds. “It’s important that they volunteer their time for this event because it encourages the kids to continue their education and hopefully attend Stanislaus State.”

After the energy-packed activities, the students ate lunch and were provided with folders filled with coloring books about healthy eating, encouragement to attend college in the future and a map of the campus.

“These kids might attend Stanislaus someday, so it’s important to interact with them,” said men’s basketball player Parker Griffin. “Athletes aren’t just about their sports. We like to give back, too.”