In each issue of Sports Illustrated Kids, we feature three kids who excel in sports, does well in school, and gives back to the community. These young athletes do it all — on and off the field! Meet this month’s SportsKids of the Month!
Ethan Leach, 10
Pleasant Hill, CA
Last spring, Ethan hit for the cycle as a pitcher for the Pleasant Hill Baseball Association's Rangers team. He scored five runs, stole two bases, and retired the side twice in two innings pitched.
When the 32 NFL owners gather in Arizona for the NFL’s Annual Meeting beginning this Sunday, there will be many discussions on rule changes, league plans, and the state of each franchise.
But another issue that has recently become a hot topic of discussion is the league’s possible expansion to Europe. While many are against such an expansion, the NFL can benefit from having a team across the pond. Here are some of the most common cases against the idea — and one reporter’s opinion on why those arguments don’t hold up.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Greg Jennings knows he has been fortunate to work and succeed as a pro athlete. And for the last seven years, he has used his success to give back to others.
In 2008, the Vikings star founded the Greg Jennings Foundation to help kids in danger of giving up on their education.
“We began to see there was a need for youth to remain interested in school, and get educated so they could be the catalyst that would break the various cycles that they were growing up in,” says Jennings. “I wanted to use my platform as a professional athlete to motivate children to stay in school.”
As the anchor of the Philadelphia Eagles defense, linebacker Connor Barwin has to present an imposing, intimidating attitude on the field. And he’s really good at it. The sixth-year pro had the best season of his career in 2014, racking up 14.5 sacks (best in the NFC), 47 tackles, and forcing two fumbles. He was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month in November, and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
But Barwin’s on-the-field rep softens up a bit off the gridiron. Literally.
There is now a stuffed-toy version of Barwin as part of the Bleacher Creatures line of toys. (The company makes plush figures of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football players; superheroes; mascots; wrestlers; even the Pope!) Over the weekend, we caught up with Barwin at the 2015 American International Toy Fair in New York and chatted about his Bleacher Creature, what led to his big year on the field, and advice for kids who want to play football.
Thomas Davis didn’t play in Super Bowl XLIX, but the Carolina Panthers linebacker still made an impact on Super Bowl weekend.
On the eve of the big game, Davis received the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, and used his platform to send a message to players around the NFL. “To the guys in this league, I just want to say to you, let’s take charge,” he said that night. “We are a village. Let’s step up and be a village of guys that make a difference.”
On the field, Davis is known for coming back from three ACL tears between 2009 and ’11 to post three consecutive 100-plus tackle seasons. Off it, he and his wife Kelly lead the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, which reaches thousands of underprivileged kids with programs like Christmas gift giveaways and a Youth Leadership Academy that annually awards two college scholarships—programs that didn’t exist in the tiny, impoverished town of Shellman, Ga., where he grew up in a single-parent home.
Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB talked to Davis about the meaning behind his message, the feedback he received, and what it’s like to be an active player in the stands at a Super Bowl.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck grew up with healthy choices all around him. But it wasn’t until he started playing football at Stanford that he began paying more attention to what he put in his body. Now he’s a big proponent of eating smart and staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and BODYARMOR, an electrolyte-filled sports drink. He spoke with SI KIDS about how he keeps his body fueled.
At what age did you learn the concept of moderation when it comes to eating food that is not great for you?
It’s something I still work on. I love chocolate. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll look down, and I’ll have eaten the whole bar, 32 squares of something. I do think moderation is key. That’s what my parents preached growing up. It’s O.K. to have a serving of dessert if you ate the rest of the meal and if your meal was nice and balanced, but limit that to once serving, or else it’s going to bite you somewhere.
The Malcolm Butler interception that ended Super Bowl XLIX and sent the Seattle Seahawks into a long offseason of what-might-have-beens shouldn't eclipse the job that head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have done in the Emerald City since taking their respective positions in 2010. The Seahawks were the youngest team ever to win the Super Bowl a year ago, and just two players — center Max Unger and punter Jon Ryan -- preceded Carroll and Schneider on the roster. Clearly, these guys know how to build a team and sustain success despite the vagaries of NFL personnel.
The Seahawks are set up pretty well for at least one more trip to the sport's biggest game in the next few years, but where do things stand in Seattle heading into the 2015 offseason, and what may change as the new season begins?