HOUSTON – March 28, 2018 – After placing first in Houston during this year’s NFL Play 60 Challenge, the winning students of Cooper Elementary School should have been ready for a rest. Instead, when Houston Texans team members came out to the school last week to help them celebrate their win, the fourth- and fifth-graders showed the exact same spirit and energy that helped them lead Cooper to claim the top spot in the challenge and the $5,000 top prize.
Former Texans tight-end Matt Murphy kicked off the March 23 program by congratulating Cooper on being “the most active school in Houston” during this year’s NFL Play 60 Challenge. “Play 60 is the NFL’s movement to help young people become more active,” Murphy told the audience gathered in the school’s gym, “to help them get out, move and play.”
This year, 240 Cooper students took part in the four-week challenge, a joint effort of the Houston Texans Foundation, the American Heart Association and Texas Children’s Hospital. Students tracked minutes during recess, at gym class, while at home with their families, and while out playing with friends on the weekends. By the time this year’s challenge ended in November, 103 of those students had completed all four weeks of activity logs.
The students’ combined efforts – tallying some 514,622 minutes in total – were enough to secure Cooper’s victory – and, for those dedicated 103 who made it all the way through, a chance to spend a Friday afternoon hanging out with a few of their heroes.
After the award ceremony and presentation of the $5,000 award check – which will go to purchase new playground equipment for the school – Texans players Zach Conque, Bryce Jones, Corey Moore and Chris Thompson – together with representatives of the Texans Cheerleaders – helped lead students at a number of high-energy games and activity stations around the gym, giving them a small taste of the kinds of exercises that make up a Texans training session.
Running, jumping and weaving their way through the courses, the students had fun while testing their stamina, agility and dexterity. Afterward, the football players signed autographs and the group posed for photos to commemorate the celebration and Cooper’s win.
Murphy encouraged the students at Friday’s celebration to continue their efforts even after the challenge had ended. “I’m a football player, but it’s not just about football. It can be basketball, it can be soccer – just anything that gets you moving and excited about exercising and being active.”
That encouragement was seconded by Cooper Elementary School Coach Detrick Jones, who said that the students who had successfully completed the challenge now had a great message that they should share with others in their lives, including fellow students, teachers, friends and family members.
“Now your job is to inspire others,” Jones said.
Cooper Principal Leticia Gonzalez also attended the celebration, and helped students and staff members take photos and selfies with the Texans players during the activity period.
“I think the best part of this is that it encourages our students to be healthy and to stay active,” Gonzalez said. “Having these star athletes here really helps inspire them to do more and do better, but it also couldn’t happen without Coach Jones. He does so much to make sure the kids are exposed to these kinds of opportunities throughout the year.”
As the Cooper students lined up and filed out of the gym at the celebration’s end, they looked tired, but excited, their abundance of energy still apparent. One student’s comment, made to Jones and Gonzalez as he was leaving, seemed to sum up the general feeling of the day for those lucky enough to be there.
“That was awesome,” he said.