James O’Shaughnessy stood in the middle of the gym, sweat dripping from his brow.
O’Shaughnessy and fellow tight end Brian Parker had just wrapped up the Chiefs’ latest community service project, a Play 60 clinic, on Tuesday at Alta Vista Middle School, 1722 Holly St.
Together, O’Shaughnessy and Parker had spent nearly an hour directing approximately 40 kids, ages 11 to 14, in a series of NFL-style drills in the league’s ongoing effort to promote health and wellness in daily life among children.
The Chiefs even passed out healthy snacks at the event, which also was part of the league’s new Hispanic Heritage Month campaign.
“If you expect the kids to have fun, you’ve got to have fun,” O’Shaughnessy said. “You’ve got to bring the energy and they’ll follow. I think they had a great time today, putting them through fun drills that we do out on a daily basis. I think they had a blast.”
So did the players, whose enthusiasm caught the eye of Claudia Meyer, vice principal at Alta Vista.
“They look like big kids, right?” Meyer asked with a laugh. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our kids to be exposed to something like this. It’s not every day they get to see a professional athlete.
“A lot of them, in their lifetime, will never get to go to a game, so just having something like this provided by the Chiefs — and on top of that, the Play 60 (experience), getting them engaged with physical activity — is an all-around great experience for everybody.
Jason Holzer, a physical education teacher at the school, agreed. This was the fifth year the Chiefs had held an event at the school.
“We want them to embrace the opportunity to see what goals can be out there for them,” Holzer said. “Seeing professional athletes come to our school kind of gives them an idea of what you can become.”
For the rookie tight ends in attendance, it was an opportunity to give back to the community.
“It was cool doing a little change up from practice and seeing some new faces around the community,” said Parker, who was claimed off waivers a few weeks ago from the San Diego Chargers.
For O’Shaughnessy, it was also an opportunity to participate in a Play 60 program he supports.
“You’ve got to get those habits in younger,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The sooner you get those good eating habits, those good working out habits, (the better). It’s just going to carry on for the rest of your life.”