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The City Journals

RSL players teach Sprucewood students how to be fit

Nov 04, 2019 02:34PM ● By Julie Slama

Real Salt Lake player Nick Besler teaches Sprucewood students the negative effects of sugary drinks as part of the Get Fit with RSL & Scheels program. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

In a partnership with Scheels, Real Salt Lake players Damir Kreilach and Nick Besler shared a thing or two with Sprucewood Elementary students about healthy lifestyles.

“We want to share the moment with the kids and just try to help them be on the right path,” Kreilach said. “We share with them our experiences and sport. My role models were on TV and it wasn’t possible for me to go to the field Saturday or Sunday to watch them, so I love being right here with them.”

As part of the Get Fit with RSL & Scheels, Besler shared with students about healthy nutrition while Kreilach demonstrated some of his pre-game warm-up routine.

“There wasn’t as much knowledge of the negative effects of sugary drinks when I was a kid,” Besler said. “But I’m here to share with them how much sugar is in the drink and tell them there’s no reason to drink as much as some do. I like to eat and drink healthy and be active. It’s important at the end of the day to stay healthy and love what we do.”

Together with Mary Van Minde, RSL foundation director, Besler asked students to match the amount of sugar, spooned up in packets, to which drinks ranging from soda pop to lemonade to energy drinks. After a few guesses, the students put them in order with A&W Rootbeer leading the list at 75 grams.

“We want kids to know how important it is to stay active and be healthy, and nowadays, sugary drinks are targeted to kids and can lead to obesity, so that’s why we focus on that and ask students to read labels and be aware of it,” Van Minde said.

Fifth-grader Olive Monge, who plays soccer for the Avalanche Club, said she learned she only needs 24 grams of sugar per day.

“We learned that a lot of different kinds of drinks and soda have a lot more grams of sugar than what we need,” she said. “I drink a lot of water.”

Students also learned the importance of warming up as Kreilach lead them through a series of stretches that help to improve his flexibility and prepare him to play.

“I liked learning how they got ready on game day by going to bed early, drinking water two days before eating enough food, but little with sugar and how Damir plays with his daughter beforehand and Nick walks his dog around this area,” said fourth-grader Logan Bell, who plays soccer for Blue Knights. “And Damir hits Nick every time he wraps his shin guard.”

Logan also recalls that Kyle Beckerman ties his left shoelace tighter than his right and that both RSL players said Justen Glad is the funniest member on the team.

Joining Kreilach was RSL’s Director of Community Relations Kyle Schroeder, who showed students a GPS device to monitor athletes for “how far they ran, how fast they ran, how high they jump.”

“We can detect who are close to being injured before they even know it,” Schroeder said.

In addition, the two players gave the school autographed soccer balls and items for students as well as answered questions.

“I liked how we could ask them a bunch of questions because it’s hard to ask them on the field how they became a professional player,” Olive said. “It was really great they gave us soccer balls.”

Playworks coach Jana Sohm agrees. 

“It means a lot to kids,” she said. “They look up to these RSL players and are encouraged to do their best.”

Tied into the event was the announcement that teachers will receive $250 through RSL’s Scoring for Schools for the second year in a row.

Last year, Principal Lori Reynolds said all 16 teachers in the school applied and received grants for items in their classrooms.

“It’s a wonderful program that supports our students and teachers,” she said. “And it’s also important for our kids, who are technically advanced, to remember to just be kids, get outside and get fit. This presentation with professional soccer players might give them that extra incentive to get out and get active.”

Chelsey Gunderson, Scheels marketing/events leader, said this is the second year of Get Fit with RSL & Scheels.

“We love giving back to our community and making a positive impact with youth,” she said.