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Murray Journal

Riverview Students Get Fit With Utah Jazz Program

Aug 03, 2016 09:02AM ● By Julie Slama

Utah Jazz dance team members lead Riverview Junior High students in a routine during the May 5 Utah JazzFit program held at their school. — Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Murray, Utah - Riverview Junior High student Sarah Dudley easily dribbled and smoothly put in a lay-up. As a basketball player for the Murray High School Spartans junior varsity and sophomore teams, shooting and ball-handling skills were up her alley when the Utah JazzFit program came to her school.

“I’m an office aide, so I was able to jump right in to participate in their program during seventh period,” she said after the May 5 event. “I thought it would be fun and it was. It was really enjoyable to learn something about dancing, too.”

About 80 students rotated through four stations in the JazzFit program, including shooting, dribbling, dance and strength training. Members of the Jazz dance team, Wheelin’ Jazz wheel chair team, stunt team and announcer Steve Brown lead the program, which was offered free to the school.

“Anyone can get fit — that’s the message we want to share,” Brown said. “Kids already know this, but having us here is a novelty so they’re listening. We touch on basic things such as drinking enough water — the equivalent of four bottles each day — and getting enough sleep. Then we want them to get moving.”

Brown said that if students start with those basics, add in healthy eating and being active, then depression and weight loss, and many other health issues, such as diabetes, can be in check, he said.

“They don’t have to be a great basketball player or play for the Jazz, but they need to find something they enjoy and get out there to do it. If they enjoy it, then we don’t have to push them to do it. They can see all kinds of fitness here from our dancers to our stunt team to the Wheelin’ Jazz, which has played for the national championship — they’re all good role models and are having fun at what they do,” he said.

His son, Spencer, who was helping with the basketball ball-handling skills rotation, agreed.

“The big thing is that not all kids are athletes or have to be competitive to be active,” he said. “If they’re out there walking, running, biking and having a balance of activities, they’re likely to be more engaged.”

Dancers Erica Monson and Rachael Rushton said the JazzFit program is fun.

“A lot of kids may think exercise entails body building and needing a gym membership and that can be intimidating,” Monson said. “It’s cool the way the Jazz shows easy and fun ways to do this.”

Rushton added that with the rotations, students learn a variety of skills.

 “Students can be nervous about working out and so we’re here to show them different forms of exercise,” she said. “For some, it may be out of their comfort zone, but they’re finding it fun.”

According to Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment Corporate Communication Manager Gina Calvert, that is the aim of the program.

“We realize that not every student is NBA-ready, so the JazzFit NBA imitative shows students different ways, skills and challenges how they can work out,” she said. “We want them to have another perspective and hopefully, ignite a spark that will keep them active.”

According to Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment Communications Relations Director Patti Balli, this is the third year where the JazzFit program holds clinics in 10 different secondary schools. Hillcrest Junior High hosted the program May 3. Each student that participates received a drawstring backpack, Utah Jazz yearbook and bottle of water and the schools receive five basketballs.

Principal Jim Bouwman said the whole program showed how exercise can be fun.

“It’s fun to see kids having fun and getting more active,” he said. “A lot of the kids really got into it. This fits in with our general fitness push and it gives them expanded activities for them to find their niche in being active.”