News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 17, 2013

VIDEO: City officials stress fitness to campers

Join in game of kickball on last day of camp

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Kickball is all about fun and exercise.

And exercise is key to a healthful lifestyle.

As a way to stress that to 42 children who participated in Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Kid’s Camp, four city officials served as team coaches for Friday morning’s first “End of Camp Kickball Game” at Deming Park.

Coaches — Mayor Duke Bennett, Parks Superintendent Eddie Bird, Fire Chief Jeff Fisher and Police Chief John Plasse — also served as pitchers for their teams, rolling the ball across home plate for a camper to kick.

Bird got two firsts for the game.

On his first roll as pitcher, Bird scooped his hand too low, striking the ground, dislocating the ring finger on his right hand.

“I kept plugging away, and then all of a sudden, it started hurting. It’s an old basketball injury. I’ve done it about 12 times,” Bird said.

Fisher came to the rescue, resetting the finger, which Bird then wrapped.

Fortunately, Bird was the first and only injury of the game.

When it came time for the four city officials to kick the ball, Bird made another first.

He kicked and kept running the bases.

Ironically, his 10-year-old son, Brian Bird, finally grabbed the rolling ball and ran toward third base. Just moments before Bird was able to tag the base, Brian threw a hard toss. It hit his dad’s leg, making Bird the first out of the game.

Mayor Bennett shouted words of encouragement as his team kicked the ball.

“Kick that thing,” Bennett yelled.

“Good hustle!,” the mayor said as 5-year-old Chase McHolland slid across home plate, as Bennett’s outstretched arms indicated the runner was safe. Bennett, who is a licensed high school referee, even called some kicks out of bounds on his own team.

Fisher was first to call a “technical time-out” for his team member Alyssa DePasquale, 6, making sure her athletic shoes were properly tied. DePasquale made it to first base, but she was later thrown out as she attempted to reach third base.

With bases loaded, Plasse initiated a coaching change, bringing 12-year-old Michael Dunagan to the front of the kicking line. It was a good move, as Dunagan kicked the ball deep behind third base, bringing in two runs. Unfortunately for Dunagan, he was later thrown out at third base.

As 7-year-old Isabella Kutch kicked the ball, her shoe flew straight up about 10 feet into the air. The camper kept running and made it to first. Plasse then said his team needed “a wardrobe malfunction” pause in the game, returning the shoe to her.

Before the start of the game, officials stressed exercise.

“It is really important to exercise,” the mayor said. “You really need to think about what that means. You can’t be sitting around the house watching TV or be on the computer all the time. You gotta get out and get a little bit of exercise. It will help you way on down the road. You got to eat good food and exercise,” Bennett said.

“That is why we are out here — is to play a little game with you and to exercise too,” he said.

Fisher said eating good food is important.

“Eat a tomato because that is a fruit and a vegetable, so you can kill two birds with one stone right there by eating right,” Fisher said.

Plasse added that “it is really important to stay in shape and be fit, especially if you are a policeman or fireman. You may have to pull somebody out of a house that is injured or help someone who needs help,” he said.

When the game ended, campers were provided with turkey hot dogs, chips and bananas. “We want them to try to eat right. We also provided juice and water, but no soda,” said Parks Director of Recreation Bruce Rosselli, a former member of the U.S. Bobsled National Team, a former U.S. National champion and Olympic alternate. He served as the game’s official umpire.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.