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Crusader football players take timeout for Riley kids

Scecina's senior football players at Riley Hospital for Children.
Scecina's senior football players at Riley Hospital for Children.

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

While Crusaders football players play tough on the field, they also like playing like little kids. Which is exactly what they did one recent afternoon during a trip to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. 

Thirteen senior football players traveled to Downtown Indy to brighten the day for Riley patients and some of the patients’ siblings who spend a lot of time at the hospital. The Scecina boys played video games, foosball and air hockey with kids. The players toured the hospital as well as had game time in the new area of the hospital called the Child Life Zone.

Child Life Zones are state-of-the-art, therapeutic play areas inside hospitals where pediatric patients and their families can play, learn, laugh and relax. “I really liked it. It was really a lot of fun,” said Carlos “Buzz” Alarcon, one of the Crusaders. “I played with one kid who was an air hockey champion.” 

Coach Ott Hurrle and assistant coach Brad Purcell, both teachers at Scecina as well, called a time-out to give the players a different workout from what they’re used to. 

“They seemed to really like it,” Hurrle said about the boys’ experience. “We just wanted to give them the experience of meeting kids like that who are undergoing difficulties.”

Riley’s Child Life Zone was unveiled last year by country music star Garth Brooks. Riley was chosen by Brooks and his Teammates for Kids Foundation to host the organization’s 11th — and largest — Child Life Zone in the country. 

During the Scecina players’ visit, some seniors also were recorded reading children’s stories, said Coach Hurrle. Riley will add animation to the story and play them for the patients, he said. 

The players who went to Riley are: Amaari Abdul-Halim, Buzz Alarcon, Anthony Andrews, Jayron Brooks, Austin Cox, Will Ferree, Jacob Hadley, Dylan Hair, George Holle, Chad Kelley, E.J. Morris, Satchel Oskins, and Will Therber

Coach Hurrle said he got the idea of a Riley field trip from the Indiana North-Star All-Star Game. Players chosen as All-Stars take a trip to Riley Children’s Foundation’s Camp Riley at Bradford Woods to visit patients there. Former Crusader Koy Pruitt ’16 was among this year’s All-Stars who went to Camp Riley, which offers outdoor adventures for children with physical disabilities. 

Hurrle said the Riley experience is one he hopes to give his players again, and they might even get down to Camp Riley someday. “They realize then how grateful they are to be healthy and playing football. We talked about being thankful for your health and athleticism,” he said. 

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