Rams Host Hometown Huddle Event for Local Youth Organizations

Posted Oct 22, 2013

Tuesday afternoon more than 100 children from local after school organizations invaded Rams Park for the annual Hometown Huddle. A league-wide program in partnership with United Way, the goal of Hometown Huddle is to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle to youth.

Each NFL team plans their own activities to correspond with the initiative, and this year the Rams modeled theirs around a full game day experience. From pre-game prep through post-game photo ops, the kids got the NFL treatment as they learned the importance of physical activity. Rams players Mason Brodine, Sean Hooey, Gerald Rivers, Shelley Smith, the St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders and Rampage stopped by to enhance the experience.

“The Rams have a long-standing partnership with United Way and that extends to many facets of the community, but one of the things that we’re most proud of is our partnership with United Way on Hometown Huddle,” said Nicole Woodie, Rams manager of community outreach and player involvement. “Hometown Huddle is done in all 31 NFL markets but here in St. Louis we like to think that it has a little extra something special because of our strong relationship with United Way of Greater St. Louis. They brought out 10 great agencies with amazing kids that enjoyed learning about being active and healthy. I think they really received the PLAY 60 message and loved the experience of being treated like a Rams player for the day.”

Kids were invited from a wide array of local youth organizations including: Kingdom House, Great Circle/Edgewood, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, Boy Scouts of Lewis and Clark Council, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, Annie Malone, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, Grace Hill, Boy Scouts of Greater St. Louis and Sherwood Forest.

The kids started off the afternoon by running through a fan tunnel onto the indoor practice field. From there, instructors from lululemon athletica led them in warm ups and then they split into groups for the ‘pregame’ activities. This included Rams athletic trainers taping them up, the opportunity to try on NFL issued shoulder pads, jerseys and helmets, stretching out with Rams strength coaches, touring the locker room and doing warm up drills.

During the ‘game time’ section of the afternoon, the kids rotated through different stations where they could practice their football skills kicking field goals, running for touchdowns, catching passes, and using the team’s tackling dummies.

“I’ve seen some pretty impressive tacklers over at the tackle circuit, they’ve been hitting pretty hard so I wouldn’t want to be in front of some of them,” said Gerald Rivers, Rams defensive end. “There’s some interesting technique. One kid came and drop-kicked one. I said, ‘Hey if you want to take that penalty go ahead, I wouldn’t recommend it though.’”

For the post-game portion, kids were able to take photos with Rampage and the St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders. Rams head chef Shawn Zell also helped them create healthy snacks to refuel their bodies, and they met with the players getting autographs signed and asking them questions.

At the end, everyone came together for final words before leaving with a Rams fun pack and meals from Russo’s.

“The United Way and the NFL are two organizations that are aligned along consistent values: community and teamwork,” said Orvin Kimbraugh, President and C.E.O of United Way of Greater St. Louis. “So Hometown Huddle is about community and teamwork. We’re partnering with so many great organizations in the greater St. Louis region to underscore the importance of kids being active and healthy and just being involved. We try to create awareness and get parents and other mentors involved and we’re so grateful for the partnership that we have with the St. Louis Rams.”