Krol, Rendon Host PLAY Clinic
On Tuesday, Nationals trainers and players hosted the PLAY Clinic, in partnership with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and MLB Charities. PLAY, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, is a public awareness campaign founded in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage daily activity among youth.
“Childhood obesity was rising in the early 2000s and they were directly tying Type II diabetes to inactivity with kids,” said PLAY campaign coordinator Zachary Reed, who hopes this clinic will encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes each day. “From the year 2000 to the year 2004, it had spiked. About 25% of kids were obese, so the campaign was founded to get kids out for some more activity.”
More than 60 children from Kyle’s Kamp and Ward 7 in Washington, D.C., were on hand at Nationals Park to learn about various topics including healthy eating, injury prevention and strength and conditioning, while also improving their baseball skills.
Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation kicked off the clinic with a chalk talk about the dangers of steroid abuse. Head trainer Lee Kuntz then demonstrated proper stretching techniques in the Nationals bullpen to warm up the kids for the day’s activities. Second baseman Anthony Rendon and pitcher Ian Krol also stopped by to share their daily routines with the children, from agility drills to the importance of staying hydrated.
“It’s great that the kids are able to meet the players and see a little bit of what we do throughout the day. We hope to instill those [lessons] and get kids back into baseball,” said Kuntz.
“They realized how important it is to get outside and be active,” said Krol. “In this day and age, you see all the kids with electronics like iPads and they don’t get to experience great things like sports and other activities.”
One of those fun activities was their own Home Run Derby, the “grand finale and the fireworks” of the PLAY clinic, as Kuntz described it. For many kids, including the Kelley brothers – Jaden, 8, and Cristopher, 9 – the derby was their favorite part of the day.
It is now their charge to incorporate the invaluable lessons they learned in their everyday lives. “Stay healthy, drink water and eat vegetables,” was Jaden’s key takeaway from speaking with Rendon and Krol.
With the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy expected to open later this fall for youth in Wards 7 and 8, many of these PLAY clinic participants will have the opportunity to continue to learn and practice the fundamentals of baseball and softball while also taking part in health and educational programs.