When Jason Pottinger was a young aspiring athlete, he had the opportunity to run some drills with Canadian football legend Michael “Pinball” Clemons.
To this day, he remembers how much of an impact that had on his life. Now a linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts, Pottinger makes sure to pass that experience on.
On Oct. 4, Pottinger made an appearance at the Scarborough YMCA to spend some time running basic drills with the kids and teens registered in the after-school program.
“I love coming out and playing around with the kids. It’s a good time throwing footballs around and seeing the smiles on their faces. It’s rewarding,” Pottinger said.
But there is more to his visit than teaching youngsters how to play Canadian football. He’s also there to spread a message about healthy living.
“Kids these days have so many temptations especially when it comes to bad foods and video games. They have the choice of staying inside for entertainment instead of going outside,” Pottinger said. “I feel like a lot of kids these days are forgetting the joys of playing outside and being active.”
Chelsi Campbell was one of those kids. She came to meet a member of the Argos and to have some fun.
“I played flag football. It’s really cool, the fact that they had time to come here and hang out with the children, it’s really nice,” Campbell said.
Students who registered in advance got to take home a ticket for the Argonauts’ game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thanksgiving.
Jason Colero, director of education programs for the Argonauts, shared why the football team became involved.
“The biggest thing is that as a community we all need to be helping kids with those after-school outlets and that extra education that can continue after school,” Colero said. “In school they have that guidance. But as soon as they leave the walls of the school, it’s out into the park and out into the neighbourhood.”
It’s not just the kids at the YMCA who get something out of the visit. The players do as well and this is something Colero is proud of.
“It’s more than just saying, ‘I give back.’ It’s giving back because you want to give back and that’s important,” Colero said. “We’ve had our guys continually do that and I know they really gain a lot out of it.”