By Mike Strasser, U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsSeptember 12, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 12, 2012) -- Since 2007, the NFL has promoted healthy lifestyles for the nation's youths through the Play 60 program, and two members of the N.Y. Giants visited the West Point Middle School Tuesday to motivate students to stay fit.
Offensive lineman Jim Cordle and wide receiver Domenik Hixon provided tips on staying healthy and advised children to ration their time on video games and choose outdoor activities instead.
Cordle listed all the activities he enjoys while staying active, but also admitted, to the cheers of students, that he also likes video games.
"You guys have to prioritize all your time," he said. "You are all military brats, and my dad was a Marine, so you know what it takes to prioritize ... do your homework, do what you have to do and then do what you want to do."
"Childhood obesity in America is a big problem, and video games have a lot to do with it," Hixon said. "So playing 60 minutes every day consistently, getting your metabolism up and eating healthy will definitely contribute to better health and a longer life."
They also reminded students to practice healthy eating habits, which means starting the day with a good breakfast and being careful not to eat too many sugary snacks during the day.
Children should also be encouraged to become active beyond the 60-minute pledge, and they can add education into their routine.
Hixon told the students he used to go on walks with his mother and they would practice his multiplication tables together.
They also told students to study hard because school should always come first.
Cordle said it is easy for football players to get their 60 minutes in because they practice and play every day.
"Not everyone will play in the NFL but you can get your 60 minutes and have fun playing outside," Cordle said.
West Point Middle School Principal David Rudy said it was a great opportunity to have NFL players at the school and validate what has been taught to students through the physical education and health curriculum.
"It's about emphasizing the importance of healthy living, daily fitness and making the right choices," Rudy said. "The other thing that I heard loud and clear from the Giants is hard work and perseverance. When they asked who wants to be a professional athlete, every child raised their hands. But what was right behind that was how much work it takes to get there and then to stay there. It was very special to hear that from them."
Hixon asked the students about their note-taking abilities, because, along with playing football, team members prepare themselves for games by taking meticulous notes.
"Pretty much four hours a day we do physical activity, but what do you think we do the rest of the day? Take notes," Hixon said. "We've got books full of notes--about who we're going against, what they do well and what they don't do well. So if you don't like taking notes, you might want to start liking it."
The visit coincided with the first school assembly of the year, in between a National Day of Service and Remembrance program and an announcement about the read-a-thon program.
"The students had no idea and we wanted to keep it a surprise," Rudy said. "It followed our Sept. 11 anniversary program, and the message from the president was about community service--turning our sorrow into service, essentially. So to have these gentlemen here today in an act of service was so fitting."
The majority of students were dressed in Black Knights apparel--obviously favoring the home team--but there were more than a few Giants jerseys in the auditorium, and one student wore an Eagles jersey, which Hixon was quick to point out.
After their presentation, the two Giants riddled the students with sports trivia and awarded team hats to those who answered correctly. There were also two sessions for students to ask questions. One student asked how long training sessions for the Giants are.
"We have to be there from 8 in the morning until 5 (p.m.), but there are guys who show up at 6 in the morning and stay until 7 at night, just trying to get better," Hixon said. "They're trying to get better."
The children, many of whom have lived overseas with their families, cheered when they heard Hixon was born in Neunkirchen am Potzberg, Germany, and his father was a 21-year Army veteran stationed in Heidelberg.
The Giants departed with some final words, "Do well in school, play 60 and have a good year." Amidst the applause, one student shouted back to the reigning Super Bowl champs, "You too."
According to the NFL website, the league has dedicated more than $200 million to youth health and wellness, and the NFL Play 60 program has benefitted children throughout the nation. To learn more about the NFL Play 60 program, visit www.nfl.com/play60.