State College

On Centre | Centre Region: Uplifting Athletes field day to help build character, raise funds

Sports build character.

For years I thought that slogan was part of an elaborate campaign my father had cooked up to get me to attend soccer practice — but as it turns out, there might actually be something to it.

As child I had my suspicions — this could have been “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” all over again — but now as a young adult I look back on this particular platitude with fond nostalgia — and immense relief.

I was not what you would call a natural athlete. I lacked the coordination, the speed and the interest.

Just do it. Um ... no?

It might have been all of the running. Actually, I’m sure it was the running.

First we’re sprinting to this end of the field and then to that side field. Why was everbody in such hurry? Did they not realize that we had four whole quarters to get where we were going?

Still, I’m glad I did it. I learned a lot about what it means to be accountable to others and how to it felt to contribute to something bigger than myself.

Local children will have the same opportunity from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Circleville Park, where they will compete in “A Field Day Inspired by Lift for Life” to raise funds for the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

Which, by the way, sounds totally more constructive than soccer practice.

Uplifting Athletes is a nonprofit that partners with college football teams to facilitate research, outreach, education and advocacy to help combat rare diseases.

Money, of course, is a crucial component in all of this, and for a $15 fee, children 12 and younger can register for two hours of drills, meet-and-greets with Penn State football players and a good, old-fashioned game of tug-a-war.

In a typical Lift for Life event — like the one that will be held by Penn State on July 11 — children are relegated to more of a spectator role, watching as the football players muscle their way through several tests of strength.

On Saturday — and this is where the building character part comes in — the children will be the ones performing tremendous feats of athleticism for a worthy cause.

So dear old dad was right — but nobody tell him that.