By Jesse Scardina
October 15. 2014 3:30PM
Patriots legend Troy Brown revs up Kittery school crowd
KITTERY — Shapleigh MIddle School became the latest of roughly 500 schools in Maine to participate in the NFL’s Fuel to Play 60 campaign, which challenges students and teachers to improve healthy eating habits and obtain at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
To inspire and encourage the group of about 400 students and 50 faculty members, New England Patriots Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion Troy Brown surprised the group, which was gathered in the gymnasium Wednesday morning.
After an exuberant reaction from the students and faculty, Brown spoke on the importance of eating healthy and exercising to maintaining NFL-caliber athleticism.
“You couldn’t practice every day hard for two hours if you’re just eating Reese’s Cups all day,” Brown said, with his 2-year-old son Skyler by his side. “I was surprised with how good some of those green vegetables tasted. I gave it a try and I actually like a lot of them. I’ve had to expand my diet to try and stay in shape as a retired football player. I need the energy to chase this little guy around.”
Brown autographed several footballs and mini helmets that will act as incentives for students to make a Fuel to Play account and to update it regularly with their food intake and physical activity. The entire school’s total is also compiled as it competes with the roughly 500 other schools in Maine and the 73,000 around the country.
Brown told students there are healthy alternatives to their favorite junk food snacks.
“I have a huge passion for ice cream, and the night before games I’d get all this ice cream in a bowl,” Brown said. “I realized it wasn’t the best thing to eat the night before a game, so I switched to frozen yogurt.
“I would put some sprinkles on it to jazz it up a bit,” Brown admitted. “It was just a little bit better for me.”
Brown fielded several questions from students, ranging from what he would eat on game days — “Lots of pasta,” Brown said, “usually with a meat sauce and breadsticks” — to his favorite moment of his playing career.
“Probably when I found out I was a New England Patriot,” said Brown, who is the organization’s all-time leader in receptions and postseason games. “I played 15 years, not a lot of players get that much time.”
Brown was also asked what his favorite Super Bowl was — a luxury for any player with the opportunity to choose from more than one.
“All of them,” Brown said. “Well, at least the ones we won.”
On the way out of the gym, students took turns high-fiving or fist-bumping the Super Bowl champion, while a lucky few stopped for a selfie with one of Tom Brady’s favorite former targets.
Eighth-graders Lilly Kemp and Shardonnay Nichols, both of whom play soccer and track and field, believe the Fuel to Play 60 program is good for the school.
“I think it’s really cool that they’re doing this,” Nichols said, adding that the soccer team tries to do additional training. “We try to get together whenever we can to have kick-arounds.”
While both eighth-graders admitted they weren’t the biggest football fans, they had family members at home who were, specifically those that cheered on Brown’s Patriots teams.
“I know my dad probably did,” Kemp said.