Utah kids, NFL players participate in Play 60 event
Published: June 22, 2014 12:43PM
Updated: June 21, 2014 09:37PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Pittsburgh Steeler Stevenson Sylvester runs drills with youth as retired and current NFL players stage a training session as part of the NFL Play 60 program, in Layton, Friday June 20, 2014.

Layton • Wrestling with excitement, hundreds of kids enjoyed a healthy afternoon of exercising and skill building in Layton with NFL Play 60 on Friday. Current and former NFL players were pumped as they motivated and trained the young athletes.

“NFL Play 60 is a great time to interact with the kids and teach them everything I do,” said former Utes and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Shaky Smithson.

NFL Play 60 is a program designed to promote healthier lifestyles and active activity for at least 60 minutes a day. Kids ages 7-14 participated in conditioning and agility drills.

“When I was a kid, I would be doing something like this,” said John Madsen, a former Utes wide receiver and Oakland Raiders tight end. “I put myself in their shoes. It’s very humbling to be around so many kids that love you.”

Madsen was one of more than 20 professional athletes in attendance, many of them former Utes including Smithson, Luther Elliss, Stevenson “Sly” Sylvester, Andre Dyson, Christian Cox, Lauvale Sape, Quinton Ganther and Bradon Godfrey. A few former BYU players also participated, including Dustin Rykert, Justin Ena and Naufahu “Fahu” Tahi.

Geoff Lee, the event director for NFL Play 60 and All Poly Sports, said Friday afternoon was a big success.

“This kind of thing, where kids are working out with a lot of professional athletes that they idolize, inspires and makes a great impression on them,” said Lee. “Hopefully, it plants a seed that will continue.”

A host of parents were also thrilled for their kids to participate in the unique opportunity.

“I had eight boys in my car,” said Leah Parker, mother of two West Lake Youth football players Logan, 12, and Payton, 10. She said she wants her boys to understand the importance of working hard, which includes going to camps like NFL Play 60.

After warming up, the kids were split into several groups at different stations. Each station featured two pro athletes in charge of the drill, which worked on speed, hand-eye coordination and feet mobility.

“The kids listen to you, and I really appreciated that,” said Sylvester, a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker. “I am trying to pass my knowledge on to them the best way I can.”

It was not just boys out chasing down footballs. There were several girls in attendance, including 13-year-old Armana Gusewelle, on vacation from Illinois.

“My favorite part was the shuffle run because I beat one of the older boys,” said Gusewelle.