NFL Play60 Comes to Naval Base Ventura County

By Tim Pompey

Encouraging kids to play is a worthwhile goal. But in this age of video games, getting them outdoors to do it might take some extra work.

The National Football League and The Los Angeles Rams brought their Play60 Program to Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in Port Hueneme on Saturday, May 12 to encourage both of these messages, and from all indications, at least for one day, it worked.

Parents and their children gathered on a manicured field on the Naval Base to participate in the Los Angeles Rams’ sponsoring of Play60, the NFL’s health and wellness program. Nine different physical skill tests were provided, including: We Challenge, Football Free Play, 40-Yard Dash, Relay Race, Shuttle Run, D-Line Challenge, 4th and Goal, Kick/Pass, and the Quarterback Challenge.

Kids participate in 4th and goal. one of nine skill tests set up on the field.

According to Alex Diaz, Youth Sports and Fitness Coordinator for NBVC, Port Hueneme, and Pt. Mugu Naval Station, the youth activity was initiated by the Rams.

“The Rams actually reached out to us,” said Diaz, “The idea behind Play60 is to promote 60 minutes of play each day. The event is open to anyone with regular base access, including all active military, retirees, and DoD civilians. The program is geared for kids between the ages of kindergarten to 8th grade.”

For Diaz, Play60 fit in well with his department’s goals for youth activities.

“One of our big goals for 2018 in terms of youth sports is to provide more programs so that more kids can participate, and we can keep more kids active throughout the year,” he stated. “It’s an opportunity to get more kids who don’t participate in our programs to try it out.”

Zach Kinkeade (middle), Manager of Community Affairs and Player Involvement for the Los Angeles Rams, poses with Rams cheerleader Kate (left) and Jenn (right).

Zach Kinkeade, Manager of Community Affairs and Player Involvement, explained how this type of outreach fits in with the Rams.

“Two of the different hats I wear are running our Play60 Program and providing Military Outreach,” he explained. “So it just makes too much sense to combine them and put on a Play60 event preaching the importance of being active and healthy while also saying thank you to the military and their families for the sacrifices they made.”

The event drew volunteers, parents, and kids to the same field.

Cory Grosskopf (USAF) and Mark Weir (Air National Guard) volunteered to participate in the NFL’s Play60 Program sponsored by the National Football League, The Los Angeles Rams, and Naval Base Ventura County

One of those volunteers was Cory Grosskopf, a member of the U.S. Air Force currently stationed at Port Hueneme. For Cory, who played football from middle school through high school, the draw was immediate.

“I had heard about it through our MWR (Military Wellness & Recreation) Program. I’ve volunteered all my life. I used to do a lot of 4H programs, so I’ve just sort of carried it on to now.”

Trinity Lindell from E.O. Green School, whose father volunteered for Play60, came out to participate.

Trinity Lindell, who attends E.O. Green, was excited to be on the field. Even at her young age, she’s already spent several years in organized sports.

“My dad works here and he was volunteering,” she noted. “I’ve played four years of soccer and two years of flag football.”

She was happy to see kids like her circling the field and having fun.

“I like seeing all these kids happy to run around instead of playing video games,” she said.

Trish Rodriguez and Joey Velasco came to watch Velasco’s sons play.

“We both work on the base,” said Velasco. “It’s convenient and free.”

Rodriguez was appreciative for “the opportunity for the kids to run around here and do the different obstacles and events they have here.”

Of course, they are both Rams fans, which only piqued their interest. But Velasco is happy that Play60 has some added health benefits.

“It encourages kids to stay active and healthy,” he said. “My boys are athletic anyway and play sports, that and they’re Rams fans, too.”

While no Rams players actually attended, Velasco noted that the Rams provided two of their cheerleaders.

“Like I told my oldest son,” Velasco laughed, “that’s good enough.”

In contrast to Rodriguez and Velasco, Dinah and Tewoer Metaferi have a slightly different view of things. Dinah comes from Kenya and Tewoer from Ethiopia. Their version of football is soccer. Still, they are enjoying watching their daughter (10) and son (8) play around on the field.

Asked if they enjoyed American football, Dinah responded: “The boy at least likes football.”

Whatever sport it is doesn’t seem to matter to the Metaferis.

“It gets them out of the house and running around with their friends in an activity that’s not necessarily organized sports,” said Dinah.

As for their own interest in American football, the Metaferis sound as if they need a little more convincing.

Asked if they’re Rams fans, Dinah responded with a smile, “Not quite.”

Maybe that enthusiasm will change over the years as their kids adopt more American sports.

In the meantime, Play60 gets their kids excited. “Kids can go out and exercise,” said Tewoer, “and be excited about playing other sports.”

Given what the NFL and The Los Angeles Rams intend by sponsoring these events, that answer is good enough.

“Youth health and wellness is one of our main pillars,” said Kinkeade. “These young kids are our future fans and it might just stick a little more when it comes from a professional football organization. It’s putting our brand behind us and preaching that good message of being active and healthy.”

Kids participate in the kick/pass skill drill

Photo Credits: Tim Pompey

Tim Pompey, a freelance writer who has done lots of local affairs and entertainment/cultural writing, lives in Oxnard. Tim is also a fiction writer (Facebook Page). You can learn about his books on

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