Rookies spend time with area youth

Every year the Steelers Rookie Club makes a visit to a local Boys & Girls Club, spending time with the kids doing physical activities, running around in a gym and challenging them to be active.

This year, though, things were a little different.

The rookies held up the long tradition of spending time with the kids, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was a virtual visit, but it brought just as much joy and laughter to the kids.

The rookies were joined by multiple Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania locations for a zoom call, where they first learned a little about the mission of the organization, which includes 14 clubhouses in the Western Pennsylvania, which encompasses Allegheny County and Somerset, and plan to open six more in 2021. The BGCWPA serves over 12,000 youth ages 5-18, the largest comprehensive afterschool and youth provider in the area.

"Our goal is to provide every young person with the essential tools needed for a successful and bright future by doing whatever it takes and activate the potential in every child," Melissa Fuller, Vice President of Operations for the BGCWPA told the rookies.

After the rookies shared with the kids a little bit about themselves, including their position and hometown, it was question time.

And let's just say there were some fun ones.

From what was the first car you bought after you were drafted to what is your favorite dinosaur, nothing was off the table.

And about that dinosaur question that was directed at Anthony McFarland, Jr., the answer didn't come easy.

"I am not really into dinosaurs," admitted McFarland. "I really couldn't tell you that."

After some coaching from his fellow rookies, he came up with an answer – T-Rex.

His other question was much easier to answer, which was what makes playing in Pittsburgh great.

"The Steelers are a great organization," said McFarland. "Anybody that played football as a kid growing up, growing up watching the Steelers it's a great vibe. Not just on the field but off the field. It's a family-oriented organization. That is what I love about it. When we are on the field it feels like it. It's a great place to be. A great area."

One of the questions Alex Highsmith was asked was who got him started playing football, which was his dad, Sam Highsmith, as well as what was his favorite rookie moment.

"There have been a lot," said Highsmith. "Probably going out there for the first game, playing Monday Night Football against the New York Giants. It was a surreal moment for me. My first NFL game to play on Monday Night Football under the lights."

And you know the kids have been watching the games when Chase Claypool was asked what it was like to score four touchdowns in one game.

"It's definitely very cool," said Claypool. "People in the NFL don't care about that the week after. You have to enjoy the experience and move on the next week and do something."

Throughout the call you could see the reaction from the kids, see the smiles, and know that they were loving every minute of it, even if it wasn't in person.

"I wish you could have been in the room just to hear the giggles, the laugher, the applause," said Fuller before the call ended. "You guys don't know the impact you have on our kiddos. Even the dinosaur question was so cute in the room.

"I want to thank you for your mentorship. I want to thank you for being real with the kids. You create impact and hope for our kids. Your leadership, attention and time is more appreciated than you will ever know."

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