Club educates youngsters on health, injury prevention and more
By Jarrid Denney
PHOENIX -- Hours before the D-backs were scheduled to face off with the Rockies on Wednesday, the outfield at Chase Field was flooded with kids sprinting, jumping and hurdling their way through a series of drills as D-backs head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw shouted words of encouragement.
Chase Field played host to a National PLAY Campaign event on Wednesday with the goal of educating local kids on everything from healthy eating, injury prevention, strength and conditioning, and education about the dangers of illegal performance and appearance-enhancing drugs as they ran through a series of stations.
"It's always a blast," Crenshaw said. "Just to be able to pass on some of your expertise to the youth. That's kind of one of my founding principles to give back to your community, and it's just a really cool event."
Created in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, the PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) campaign was formed to raise awareness about children's health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States.
During Wednesday's event, they represented the National Down Syndrome Society with the support of the Ruderman Family Foundation.
The kids broke up into groups and ran through drills and obstacle courses with Crenshaw, D-backs strength and conditioning coordinator Nathan Shaw, assistant trainer Ryan DiPanfilo and Justin Matlage, a regional sales rep for the Henry Schein Cares Foundation. During breaks and lunch, all four shared their knowledge on nutrition, fitness and provided tips for sustaining a healthy lifestyle.
"It's awesome. We come out here for the kids, but it's almost you end up leaving like you gained so much as well," Matlage said. "Kids are so smart these days, and they know so much more than we think they do. They just absorb so much, so just asking them questions, they know the answers before we even get the question out."
Donald Hooton Jr., president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, also gave a speech on the dangers of abusing appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs. The foundation was named in honor of his late brother, Taylor, who took his own life in 2003 after using anabolic steroids.
"By no stretch of the imagination are we anti-supplement," Hooton said during the speech. "But there's some information that you guys need to know."
PLAY has conducted more than 300 events inside all 30 Major League ballparks, reaching tens of thousands of America's young people with positive messages about making healthy decisions and living a more active and healthy lifestyle.
"It's all around the baseball community, and all sports," D-backs pitcher Shelby Miller said after meeting with the kids and fielding questions in the Chase Field stands. "It's grown huge for these young kids. I think it's something that's important and interesting for, not only us, but for them to get to see what we do every single day."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.