TAMPA, Fla. - Growing up, Bucs cornerback Jordan Whitehead remembers how cool it was to be face-to-face with NFL players he looked up to.
"I got chances to be around a lot of NFL players when I was young, so I just remember getting balls from them or gloves that they gave us," he said. "It just made my day!"
So when given the chance to interact with hundreds of kids from both Hillsborough and Pinellas County schools for the team's Junior Bucs Field Day, Whitehead jumped at the opportunity.
The field day, hosted at the Bucs team facility, gave hundreds of students the chance to compete in field day events like the parachute run and football toss, alongside Buccaneers players.
"I think they watch the players do what they do, and it really inspires them to get active and see that they too, can become successful in their lives," said Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, owner and president of the Buccaneers Foundation.
"It's a long school year," said Van Ayres, deputy superintendent for Hillsborough County schools. "For kids to have an opportunity to have a field day at a facility like this, you know, in the future to have all our elementary, every one of them out here, it would be phenomenal."
Each of the kids participated in the Junior Bucs Fitness Program. Every month, the team provides player-led videos teaching the importance of physical fitness.
"The kids that are here today were the most improved kids, not the kids that were the top athletes," said Kassewitz. "So these are kids that really made progress through our programming. It's a tremendous reward for them, to show that they can do it, too."
And Friday, they did it, with Bucs players they aspire to be like one day.
"I remember being a kid and wanting to be out here," said Whitehead. "When you got a chance to come do drills with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for me it was back with the Steelers. I just remember being young and getting to see NFL players for the first time, you always remember that for the rest of your life."