Kipnis, Taylor Hooton Foundation join forces for PLAY Campaign stop in Cleveland

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Members of the Taylor Hooton Foundation joined forces with the Cleveland Indians athletic training staff and Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis at Progressive Field on Tuesday to promote physical exercise and healthy eating in the national “PLAY” Campaign.

Nearly 40 kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland and the Cleveland Baseball Federation spent the afternoon rotating through various stations in the outfield with Kipnis.

In left field, one group practiced static and dynamic stretching. When the trainers asked how many kids had eaten breakfast prior to coming this morning, just two kids raised their hands, prompting them to speak about the importance of eating a hearty breakfast.

In right field, the group worked with Indians trainers, including Indians Head Athletic Trainer, James Quinlan, on agility exercises.

One young participant felt the outfield grass midway through his workout and commented, “It’s amazing; it feels fake, but it’s real.”

Kipnis led the group in center field, giving them tips on how to scoop up a ground ball.

“Defense is tiring; you have to move those legs,” he said. “Open your body up for the backhand [and] turn your body to use your forehand.”

Founder and President of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, Don Hooton, said his staff travels to almost every Major League Baseball stadium each season. Most teams, he said, have a player representative who works closely with the organization to spread its message.

For the Indians, Kipnis has agreed to serve as the charter member of the Taylor Hooton Foundation Advisory Board.

“There is a fun and right way to do things,” Kipnis said, “and you get to do it with a Major Leaguer.”

Hooton’s son, Taylor, died 11 years ago after using anabolic steroids as a member of his high school baseball team. He said he was eager to hear what advice Kipnis had to offer to the kids.

“As parents, we were shocked to find out not only how dangerous these drugs are but how many children across the country are using these drugs,” Hooton said. “That’s the wrong way for them to achieve their objectives.”

Hooton said it is important to emphasize that kids do not need supplements or steroids to be successful.

“The thing I like about the program is after the kids hear about how not to do performance-enhancing drugs, they get to come out on the field with the athletic trainers and strength coaches to learn how to go about achieving their objectives the right way,” Hooton said.

The groups finished with a question-and-answer session with Kipnis, and a few lucky stragglers were even able to get a last-minute autograph from the Tribe second baseman.

-TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden/Photos by Dan Mendlik

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