Coach Brooks, Byron Mullens help launch new season of Thunder Fit

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds

Launching the third and newest season of Thunder Fit, Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks and center Byron Mullens helped lead about 60 Oklahoma City middle school students in an hour-long workout. The kids of Northeast Academy for Health Sciences and Engineering rotated through four exercise stations: basketball shooting, dribbling, strength-training and cardio drills. With hip-hop music pulsing through the gymnasium, Brooks led kids through a regimen of dribbling, while the 7-foot Mullens was enlisted to help hone shooting skills.

Physical education Coach Kenny Blair grinned as he surveyed the whirlwind of activities. His students, he said, had been looking forward to the event all day.

“When these gentlemen come in for these children, it’s now real [to the students],” said Blair, who has taught at Northeast Academy for the past seven years. “When the kids see them on television, it’s not as real. But when these gentlemen come in and speak from the heart and tell [the children] they’re doing a great job -- it’s real to them.”

It also proved real for Brooks and Mullens, both of whom worked up a healthy sweat during the clinic.

“We love getting out in the community and helping out in any way we can,” Coach Brooks said. “Our guys take it seriously, getting in the community and being good role models.”

He added that he is particularly happy to be spreading the message of Thunder Fit.

“It’s important to stay in shape,” Brooks said. “It’s important to stay fit. I love the opportunity to go out with my two kids and participate in activities. If you’re not in shape, you’re not going to be able to do that.”

The kids seemed to grasp the stakes of physical fitness. When a Thunder representative asked the students how many knew someone with heart disease, a flurry of hands shot up. Then the children were asked if they knew someone with diabetes; most raised their hands.

Blair said health and physical education are central to the mission of Northeast Academy, a specialty school in the Oklahoma City Public School District.

“What we emphasize is eating healthy, especially with the urban children because we know there are a lot of fried foods in the household, and we’re trying to get them to think healthier,” he said.

“And the children understand the important of exercising, even if they have to get to the mall just to walk around.

“A healthy body is going to help a healthy mind. A healthy body is going to be able to keep the kids focused on what’s needed to be done in the classroom.”