Egg Harbor City Community School eighth-grader Stephen Murphy, 14, let his classmates hold the autographed football he won Wednesday in a trivia contest, after hearing Jets placekicker Nick Folk and punter Ryan Quigley share stories of how physical activity was part of their childhoods.
“I’m an Eagles fan, but this is still pretty cool,” said Murphy, one of about 20 students to win prizes. Both Folk and Quigley had just signed it.
More than 100 students at the school had pledged to log 60 minutes of physical activity every day for four weeks as part of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Jets Play 60 “Eat Right, Move More” program earlier in the school year. The high level of participation helped the school become one of four winners in the state.
Principal Jack Griffith said the students had averaged 73 minutes of physical activity a day, according to their logs.
“You made us one of the top schools in New Jersey,” Griffith told the kids. “Congratulations.”
Schools were also judged by the quality of their meal programs, and the Community School’s universal breakfast contributed to the win. Every student gets a nutritious breakfast during a 20-minute homeroom, physical education teacher Kim Goodwin said.
The two Jets also helped state Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher deliver the school’s $2,000 prize, which Griffith said will be used to purchase an indoor, lateral climbing wall for the gym.
Goodwin said logging of physical activity counts as 10 percent of every student’s grade in gym.
“We’re making them accountable for their health,” she said.
Folk, 29, and Quigley, 24, both said they played several sports as youngsters, particulary soccer and basketball. Neither started playing football until high school.
“I had two younger brothers, and we were outside playing all the time,” said Folk, who grew up in Los Angeles. “We played youth soccer. I’m still a fanatical soccer fan.”
Folk played at the University of Arizona, then with the Dallas Cowboys for three years, and has been with the Jets since 2010, he said.
Quigley, who grew up in South Carolina and played at Boston College, shared some of his difficulties along the way to signing with the Jets last September. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears after college, then cut, he said. He traveled the country trying out for several teams.
“It’s been a real journey for me,” he said.
The two were good-natured about all the Eagles fans in the audience, and when it was time to answer questions didn’t hesitate to call on kids wearing Eagles jerseys or those of other teams, including the Cowboys and New York Giants.
In response to a student’s question about Michael Vick joining the Jets, Folk said he had just met Vick earlier in the day for the first time, and that competition between Vick and Geno Smith to be starting quarterback will help the team.
Both stressed how important it is to develop good nutrition, exercise and study habits now.
“The foundation of everything you learn in college is here,” Folk said of the Community School. He said his SAT scores kept him from being accepted into Stanford University, even though the school was interested in him as a player.
“I had a 3.9 GPA. I just wasn’t a good test-taker,” he said. But years of physical activity and work on his kicking skills in high school led him to success, he said.
Fourth-grader Miguel Perez, 9, said he is playing outside more and playing video games less since the program began at the start of the school year.
“I learned it’s not all about electronic games,” he said. “I’m having fun outside with my friends, playing football, soccer and tag.”
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