More than 100 children of active-duty military and civilian personnel at Aberdeen Proving Ground spent Tuesday evening running football drills with a little help from Baltimore Ravens players.
The 165 children were divided into smaller groups and rotated among various stations on the youth sports field on the Harford County Army installation. They performed passing, strength, agility and tackling drills.
The drills were part of a clinic hosted by the National Football League's Play 60 program, which is designed to encourage children to play and be active 60 minutes each day.
Eight Ravens players arrived in a bus to the ecstatic screams of the children.
Accompanied by cheerleaders and the mascot Poe, the players ran through a gate decorated with the Ravens team colors and the glowing red eyes of a raven.
They slapped hands with the children who were lined up along either side of the gate, wearing purple Play 60 T-shirts.
The tackling dummy drill had a military theme. The children ran with tackling dummies strapped to their backs, to simulate carrying their buddies off the battlefield, while defensive tackle Brandon Williams, No. 98, shouted encouragement.
Williams could also be seen helping the children through tire flipping drills to build strength, and wide receiver Torrey Smith, No. 82, and safety Omar Brown, No. 31, backed up the children as they tried to catch a football during passing drills.
"It was actually really fun because I like the Ravens, and if I could, I would get their autograph and play with them every day," said 7-year-old Shyanne Surette of Aberdeen.
"I think it's a great program," said Pam Surette, Shyanne's mother.
Uniformed soldiers and Play 60 volunteers in white T-shirts also assisted with the drills, while the children's parents stood to the side and cheered and took pictures.
"This is wonderful for them, just showing them different activities to stay healthy . . . to exercise and have fun while they're exercising," Jamie Turner of Belcamp, a civilian employee at APG, said as her 7-year-old daughter, Harmony, ran through the various drills.
The event was part of the both NFL's Play 60 campaign and the league's Salute to Service military support campaign.
Tom LaNeve, who coordinates youth football camps for the Ravens and is known as "Coach Tom," led the children through drills and gave them some parting words of inspiration toward the end of Tuesday's clinic.
LaNeve encouraged the children to eat right, stay active and to have a positive attitude.
"Understand it's about effort and what you put into it every day," he said.
LaNeve said later that he had considered running the clinic an honor.
"I consider this an honor to be able to come to a military base and work with the kids," he said. "It's just wonderful to be able to take part and help our military because I hold them in such high regard."
Army CW2 John Mulrooney, who lives on APG, met up with his 13-year-old son Connor after the clinic ended.
He said the clinic was "well played" and hoped it would be held on a regular basis.