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Houston Texans

Girls get in the game with Texans


Boys, move over. The girls took over the football field last Saturday at the second annual "Girls... Get in the Game!" event, held inside the Methodist Training Center. Approximately 250 girls participated, doubling the attendance of last year's inaugural event.

The one-day free sports camp is hosted by the Lady Texans Wives Organization each year for girls ages 8-14 and includes breakfast, lunch and a gift bag of goodies. This year's event was highlighted by football drills, dance instruction from the Texans Cheerleaders and a visit from Houston sports legend and former tennis pro Zina Garrison.

"We do a lot of stuff for boys with youth football, but we felt like there was no initiative for young girls and trying to get them involved in fitness and tell them about healthy living and healthy eating," Texans Community Relations Manager Stephanie Belton said.

"I think it's fantastic," local resident Cheryl Drain said, watching from the sidelines. "It is wonderful to see the Texans doing something for the girls."

The day started at 8 a.m. as the girls were split into several groups, each being coached by a Lady Texan or volunteer. Then the action began with the girls rotating through throwing, kicking and agility drills similar to those the Texans do in an actual practice.

"My great-niece is out there having a great time," Drain said. "I see her trying to get in and do everything two or three times. I hope it'll last two or three days next year."

Nellie Bauman, whose nine-year-old daughter Brianne was trying out football for the first time, also gave a glowing review of the event.

"I'd never heard of it before, but I think it's really great and I think they should keep doing it and encourage kids to get active," she said.

Eleven-year-old Kimbre, from northeast Houston, took a break from field goal practice to share some of her favorite parts of the day.

"It's good," she said. "I like getting to talk to a famous tennis player and seeing the cheerleaders walk by.

"This is the best field trip I've ever been on."

{QUOTE}Garrison was the special guest speaker of the day. A three-time Grand Slam champion and Gold Medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games, she spoke to the girls at length about positive self-esteem.

"The best advice that I can give them is just basically to believe in themselves," she said. "I also like to tell them that they are mentors, that they are their own celebrities.

"A lot of times people that you see on television, you want to emulate them, but really, you should be emulating yourself because people are looking at you all the time."

Several of the Texans' wives helped out on the day, including the wives of general manager Rick Smith, senior defensive assistant Frank Bush, guard Fredy Weary, tight end Mark Bruener and kicker Kris Brown. For Brown's wife, Amy, her second time at the event was just as sweet as the first one.

"Honestly, especially after doing this last year, these girls have an unbelievable time," she said. "I just think that them being able to do something, even come up to the Texans complex, is kind of neat in itself.

"It's great to see the smiles on their faces for a morning. And I think it's important for the little things they'll learn today, too."

Team nutritionist Roberta Anding taught the girls about the importance of eating breakfast, eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking water.

"One of the biggest problems in this age group is obesity," she said. "Those are three things that without talking about calories, without talking about weight, also help with life-long weight management."

And Texans strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley spoke about the value of exercise. He also demonstrated how to properly perform simple exercises like sit-ups and push-ups, trying to create healthy habits for the girls at a young age.

"Well, that's what you hope to do, that they remember one thing that you said that has an impact on the next time they do a sit-up, hopefully they do it a little stricter and get more out of it," he said. "They're all young now and they should be playing and having fun, but then, somewhere down the road, exercise needs to become part of their daily activity."

In perhaps the highlight of the day, Texans Cheerleaders Dani, Teresa, Larisa and Marisa had all the girls smiling as they conducted a cheerleading dance tutorial. The day then concluded with lunch, and the energized participants received gift bags to commemorate a truly memorable day.

"I like that it's something just for girls," Belton said. "Something where the young girls can bond together and learn about healthy eating. Even at their age, it's something that could carry to their adulthood. And they get to have a little football with it, as well."

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