By Nancy Gutierrez

Exeter Union High School varsity football players are bridging a gap between the elementary and high school districts.

Seven players involved in the Monarch Pals program visited Rocky Hill Elementary and Lincoln Elementary School on Sept. 3 to speak to students as an adopted classroom pal.

Aaron Thomas, a defensive tackle, center and punter, told the fourth-graders in Gina Wise's class how important it is to eat right and exercise and to stay away from drugs.

"I'm a little nervous," Thomas said. "But, it's fun. I'm going to talk to them about being a team player."

Players also told students that in order to participate in sports they would need to do well in school.

"This program hopefully will help kids to see how what they put in their body affects their performance in school and on the playing field," Vicky Riddle, Parent Athletic Student Support (PASS) club representative said. "Being on sports teams and learning to be a team player really helps kids later on in life."

The PASS Club is sponsoring the program. PASS Club members also hope the program will help increase the popularity of football and garner support for the program. During school visits players will also talk to the students about what they do to get ready for a game individually and as a team.

"This really applies to girls and boys," Riddle said. "At this age girls are just as good at football as boys are. But it is also a way to foster good role models."

The football players will visit their adopted class several times throughout the year. Riddle said the students have the opportunity to send messages to their adopted player prior to games. There are 28 teachers at Lincoln and 16 teachers at Rocky Hill who have agreed to adopt a player. The visit will take place during the players football elective class.

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