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ETSU Olympic Day encourages sports participation

June 28th, 2013 4:23 pm by Jennifer Sprouse

ETSU Olympic Day encourages sports participation

Kids in the Fit Kids program participated in seven different sports during Olympic Day 2013 on the grounds of Memorial Park Community Center. Jacob Reed (PhD Student) helping Abby Greene (9 yr old) with her volleyball skills during Olympic Day. (Tony Dun

Walking down the steps of the amphitheater at the Memorial Park Community Center to the tune of John William’s “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” local grade school children were turned into mini-Olympians Friday during the second Olympic Day in Johnson City.

Olympic Day, which originated after East Tennessee State University was declared an official U.S. Olympic Training site for weightlifting in April 2012, is put on conjointly each June by ETSU, Johnson City and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce to expose kids to sports and the Olympic movement.

After the playing of national anthem just after 9 a.m., the group of 50 to 60 kids from Fit Kids, ready to go in their gym attire, listened carefully to opening ceremony activities, which included the reading of an Olympic Proclamation.

As the kids broke off into their different groups, some stayed outside hitting tennis balls and kicking around a soccer ball, but others made their way inside the community center.

Ellie Lyons, 8, was spotted on the basketball court working on drills with her group. Ellie said she attended last year’s Olympic Day, where she said she enjoyed playing volleyball.

Lyons said she was excited about participating in the different sports at this year’s event and said she was having fun at the basketball station.

“It’s fun when you win, but sometimes it’s just about having fun,” she said. “I just like doing different sports.”

Meg Stone, director of the ETSU Olympic Training Site and a competitor in discus in both the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games, said this year’s Olympic Day was toned down from last year’s, which was held in ETSU’s mini dome.

“This year because it’s not an Olympic year we decided just to tone it down a little bit and just (include) one particular group, but still have the feel of that Olympic movement,” she said. “We have ... seven activities.”

Stone said each participant in Olympic Day was allotted 25 minutes at each sport station, including tennis, table tennis, weightlifting, soccer, relay runs, volleyball and basketball. She said for the kids who aren’t sport-minded, a craft station was set up where they could paint the Olympic rings and put on temporary Olympic tattoos, as well as discuss the meaning of the five rings.

Helping coordinate the different sports stations Friday were doctoral and master’s students from the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at ETSU, as well as some senior citizens who volunteered to demonstrate techniques in table tennis.

Stone said the purpose of Olympic Day is try to involve and expose kids to sports of all levels.

“Last year when we did this event, it really really brought home to us the fact that there are some kids in this community who have never bounced a basketball, never been involved in a gymnastics program before. Just simply getting them (the kids) moving, that’s No. 1,” she said. “I’m always excited when I see kids get exposed to sport.”

Olympic Day ended around noon with a closing ceremony and a few words from Stone about what it means to be an Olympian.

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