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The Dartmouth
May 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Kid, cops and jocks; Athletes and police officers entertain local youths

While the band at Alpha Delta fraternity filled the air with music last Saturday, gusts of wind carried the smell of beer across the street where a much younger group of children were having a different kind of fun in and around Alumni Gym and Leverone Field House.

Dartmouth athletes and local police officers volunteered to teach their skills to more than 500 local children at the first annual Dartmouth Sports Fun Day.

The day was the culminating event of the 1993 Kids and Cops of the Upper Valley Program, run by five local police stations and the College's Athletic Department.

The third through eighth graders spent three hours moving through 20 stations featuring 10 different sports, a talk on the value of wearing seat belts and a display of police cruisers in the Leverone parking lot.

Many of the local youngsters said exploring the police cruisers was their favorite part of the day. "They love it," said Lt. Begin of the Lebanon Police Department. "They love the motorcycle."

One boy, seated behind a radar gun that had been left on in the Lebanon Police cruiser, pretended to catch speeders as they whizzed by on South Park Street. "All we need is a ticket book!" he shouted.

On the athletic field, youngsters also ran through tackling dummies, practiced spiking the football and doing touchdown dances in the end zone at one of the four football stations.

But the young participants were already experts at growling ferociously and rolling in the mud, and they performed elegantly if messily at a station designed to teach defensive football line tactics.

The swimming station featured a medley relay race pitting four female swimmers against four male swimmers. The pool area was filled with the shrieks and screams of kids cheering for their own gender, while "Eye of the Tiger" by the early-80s rock band Survivor blasted in the background.

The swimming team demonstrated its training tools to the students. In one session, the kids begged and pleaded until Dave Kramer '96 agreed to jump from the 10-meter dive platform.

A station in Leverone centered on seat-belt and bike helmet use. The kids were told to remind their parents to be "Saved by the Belt" and to use the seat-belts provided in some school buses.

Officers distributed pamphlets and bumper stickers promoting use of safety belts and discouraging drug and alcohol abuse and drunk driving. Many kids shared stories of how they or a family member was saved by wearing a seat-belt.

The day was praised by Dartmouth varsity athletes as well, who often had more fun than the kids themselves.

"It's awesome," said Adrienne Parker '93, a member of the women's volleyball team. The kids "are really enthusiastic. They try so hard. They never lose interest."

Mike Bracco '94, the varsity ice hockey team's goalie, agreed. "It's actually a lot of fun. The kids look up to a lot of athletes," he said. "Hopefully we'll influence them. Maybe they'll grow up and do the same thing someday."

The police officers were pleased with the turnout. "The students have been excellent ... really upbeat," said Scott Rathburn of the Lebanon Police Department.

The kids who attended the event collected 10 of the 20 sports cards featuring Dartmouth athletes created for the Kids and Cops program.

The program, which ran for five weeks, urged Upper Valley children to obtain the cards by approaching police officers in the street and asking for them. The program was designed to provide children with an opportunity to feel more comfortable with police officers.

Many of the children collected all 20 cards, and were eligible for special prizes at the end of the day.

"I don't think we could have asked for a more successful first year," said Wendy Troxel, associate director of athletics at the College. "What we thought was going to be small-scale has gotten really big."

The Kids and Cops program and the sports day were supported entirely by donations from local businesses and more than 100 volunteers from the College, the police stations and local parents.