It is entirely possible that the stomping of one’s feet to conjure up Broncos-mania might actually be some sort of evolutionary trait of living at high altitude. Or perhaps it is a learned response that has been passed down from Broncos fans of yesteryear who created “Rocky Mountain Thunder” on the steel and concrete floors of old Mile High Stadium. Whatever the origins, the 900-plus students at Bromley East Charter School in Brighton quickly transported their humble gymnasium into Sports Authority Field Lite by cheering and stomping their feet upon seeing one of the stars from last Sunday’s victory over the New Orleans Saints.
“It was crazy, ” Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee said of his hero’s welcome. “I did it last year and it was me and Von Miller and Von did all the talking, so I was really laid back. Now it’s my turn to do all the talking. I got a little nervous, but I pulled it together.”
Of all the characteristics we have to work to instill in our children, enthusiasm is certainly not one of them. That’s what McGahee found out as he took to the microphone to present the school with a $10,000 grant on behalf of NFL PLAY 60, the league’s initiative to fight childhood obesity by encouraging kids, parents and schools to get every young person in America to be physically active for at least sixty minutes each day.
McGahee led off with a stirring opening argument: “Are we looking forward to being outside today?!?”
This was met with a campaign rally-like unanimous agreement. Some things you don’t have to teach kids, simply model.
“Physical education was a really big part of my success growing up and coming to the NFL. I looked forward to P.E. at every school I was in from elementary, to middle school, to high school. You’ve got to go out and run around,” McGahee said.
In addition to the assembly and the presentation of the grant, 50 students were selected to participate in a gym class led by McGahee.
“I want to see who has got the best agility out here,” he joked. “We’re going to put in work. I’m going to really test them.”
Those 50 students who got put to the test by McGahee were selected from a school-wide essay contest. It likely wasn’t just the future English majors taking the field, either. “Our mission statement is to actively promote choice, critical thinking, problem solving and character development of the whole child, enabling students to achieve academic excellence in a safe environment,” Bromley’s Executive Director Lori Sheldon explained.
While many schools in recent years have been forced to take a hard-line economic approach to many programs like physical education, Bromley has firmly planted it in their curriculum. The school was handsomely rewarded by the NFL for their commitment to healthier, more active kids, and its students were treated to an appearance by their beloved Broncos running back.
“You know, I was always active when I was little and I’m pretty sure some of these kids have dreams of playing in the NFL, or NBA, or Wimbledon, or something like that – it starts now,” said McGahee. “It doesn’t start later on in life, it starts now at an early age and this is the time you need to catch it.”