Jan. 27, 2011
Members of the UCLA Football Team helped kick off the second year of "Man Maker Wednesdays." Each Wednesday throughout the winter quarter, members of the football team, along with UCLA Head Athletic Performance Coach Mike Linn will visit Palms Middle School to participate in The Prime Time Games. The Prime Time Games is a full-inclusion sports program wherein at-risk middle school students from the Team Prime Time After School Program coach, mentor and play alongside young athletes with special needs, including autism and Down syndrome.
"This sports mentorship program brings together low income and special needs students, and provides a unique experience for our athletes," said Linn. "Different than most community service opportunities, this after-school program allows mentor-to-mentor interaction as well as an inclusive environment for the special needs participants.
"The goal at UCLA has always been to build the complete student-athlete; in the classroom, on the field and in the community. This is especially true with football, where player development should be as much about building character as it is improving physical abilities."
By Kevin Prince, UCLA Quarterback
We started the day off by forming two high-five lines for the player as they were introduced. We were about to play some basketball, so we formed lay-up lines to allow the players to get warmed up for the games. I noticed one player, Blake, who seemed disinterested in the lay-up lines so I asked him what he was thinking about. I then received a full run down of "The Rotten Family." This is his comic strip he is working on featuring his character Phil Rotten, his sister Mac and Purple the Cat among others. He left his sketches at home, but he promised to bring them next time so I could see what he was working on.
As the games began, I got to be a coach for two very competitive kids, Harrison and Zach. Right before the games started, Zach informed me that he was shooting well that day and he was right. By the end of the game he had scored 20 points! He made sure I was keeping track by continuously telling me how many baskets he had made throughout the game. Harrison was our other leading scorer. He was fearless driving through the lane. He took shots from everywhere on the court and made them. He also had the tough task of guarding Casey, who was truly a three-point specialist.
At the end of the game, it was popsicle time. That got everyone excited, including me. Before we went outside for popsicles, however, Zach and Harrison offered to give me "free headbutts" to celebrate their performance in the game. I was honored that they wanted to celebrate with me, so I accepted. I got some more free headbutts before it was time for them to go home.
It was a great day and a wonderful way to spend a few hours. I was not only impressed by the players, but also by the student coaches. They helped keep everyone involved and interested in the game and made it fun for everyone. It showed a great amount of character for these kids to come out and spend some of their after-school time to help youngsters who might not be as fortunate as they are. This was my second time working with Team Prime Time and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. I look forward to going back and seeing everyone in the near future and making sure that the student coaches know that what they are doing is worth every bit of their time, and that the players know that they are all-stars without a doubt.