More than 1,000 students from across the GTA got a chance to get up close and personal with their favourite Toronto Argonaut football players yesterday morning.
The kids watched the team practise at U of T's Erindale campus in Mississauga, then had a meet-and-greet with the players.
"We talk to them about what's going on in the field so they know these guys just aren't running around and bumping into each other, and they are actually doing something," said Jason Colero, Argos manager of community relations. "If we can get them to understand to be a teammate ... that's what we're trying to get across."
Kids ran some drills and obstacles while others cheered them on and squirted water to cool off their pals in the heat.
"That smile right there, that's the most exciting thing," said Coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons. "I think the more we can become a community the more we can reach out and touch each other."
Many of the students also represented the Huddle Up Program organized by the Argos and the Canadian Safe School Network to promote anti-violence and anti-bullying.
"It's a good intermingling of what we work so hard in the off season to do in the community off the field with what we do on the field," said Beth Waldman, Argos director of communications.
She said team members attend school assemblies to discuss what to do if kids are being bullied.
Offensive guard Jeff Keeping is out of commission for two to three weeks with a knee injury -- but that didn't stop him from getting involved with the kids.
"It's a busy off season when we weren't training, we were trying to get to as many schools as we could and educate these kids on the seriousness of the issue of bullying," the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Keeping said. "We're trying to bring solutions instead of just talking about violence."
Selma Valley Public School student Cameron Hughes, 11, said he just likes to meet the players.
"The Argos, the drills -- I think it's all really nice."
And he really likes the team's quarterbacks. "Michael Bishop and Damon Allen are my two favourites," he said.