The kindergarten students from Westside were invited by the Northern Arizona University Athletic Department to tour the NAU Walkup Dome. The students bundled up for their mile walk from school to the Dome and set off first thing in the morning. They were greeted by Mr. Carlos, the head equipment manager for all of the sports teams at NAU.
He started out by introducing the students to the field which is currently set up for NAU Men's Football, but can be reconfigured for basketball, track, volleyball and many other sports.
The students were then taken behind the scenes to the athletic training room, where they saw the equipment that is used to help players with injuries, such as areas to stretch, treadmills and huge ice bathtubs. An athletic trainer told the students about his job and about all of the important schooling that is required to work with athletes.
The next stop was to the equipment room, where Mr. Carlos told everyone about the huge undertaking of keeping track of all of the equipment. The students saw big shelves on wheels that held all of the gear for the football team. They were even able to try on a helmet and shoulder pads and compare their shoe size to a football player's shoe! In the equipment room are huge washers and dryers where the players uniforms, socks, shirts and other clothes are cleaned after practices and games. Afterwards, the clean clothes go into cubbies so they're ready for the next time a player needs them. The football team was getting ready for a game in Colorado, so Mr. Carlos showed the students huge trunks where the equipment and uniforms would be packed for the trip. He has a big job making sure everyone has everything they need!
Next up, the kindergarteners visited the locker room, where all of the football players have their own cubbies and stools. This is where the players get ready for their home games and where they meet with their coaches during half time. There's even a countdown clock that ticks away the time to the next game. The locker rooms were so professional looking and organized!
The last stop behind the scenes was the weightlifting and exercise gym where students got to meet physical trainers, practice some lunges and push-ups, and see huge weightlifting machines. They were also very interested in the refrigerators of chocolate milk.
Once the students had a handle on all the work that it takes to get players ready for their sport, it was time to hit the field! Each kindergartener took turns running, jumping, dodging and tackling their way through an obstacle course. Mr. Carlos taught the students how to properly tackle by hugging! After that, they practiced teamwork by throwing, kicking and catching the ball. It sure is hard work being a college athlete! They were plenty tired and hungry when it was time to leave; good thing we stopped for pizza on the long walk home! Thank you to Mr. Carlos and everyone at the NAU Athletic Department who made our fun-filled visit possible!