Janesville23.2°

Evansville program strengthens bodies, hearts and minds

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 4, 2010
— Dale Schulz wants kids to improve 1 percent every day.

That means 1 percent on the track, in the weight room, in the gym and on the field.


It also means 1 percent in the classroom, 1 percent as family members and 1 percent as community members.


Schulz and his team at Power of Positive Athletes (POPA) are willing to help kids meet those goals with physical training—and through the second annual POPA Charity Challenge.


Here’s how it works:


For seven weeks this summer, middle and high school students participate in a traditional fitness program that focuses on flexibility, agility, strength and conditioning training.


During those seven weeks, kids are divided into six teams and asked to collect pledges or money from the community. Out of every $5 raised, $1 goes to charity and the rest helps buy equipment for the POPA program, support kids whose families can’t afford the program fee and pay stipends for the four-person coaching staff.


Contributors also can make larger donations to the charities through the POPA program.


The six charities benefiting from the program are Juvenile Diabetes research, Multiple Sclerosis research, the Ronald McDonald House, the American Cancer Society, the Rock County Humane Society and the Evansville Care Closet. Charities were picked based on their connection to students in the program.


Fundraising efforts culminate at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 18, at the Evansville High School gym, 640 S. 5th St. Kids will perform a stretch-and-flex routine and run through various agility/quickness drills. Also, athletes in grades 6 to 8 will compete for the fastest team average in the 40-yard-dash and older kids will head to the weight room to compete for the highest average of total weight lifted.


The POPA program, which is unique to Evansville, has always depended on community support to keep it going, Schulz said.


About 155 kids are involved in the program this year. They’re led by a staff of four that includes Schulz, the strength coach at Evansville High School and a fourth-grade teacher in Oregon; Brad Saunders of Brodhead; UW-Whitewater football player Garth Coats; UW-La Crosse football player Kyle Schulz; and UW-Oshkosh student coach Drew Sperry.


Schulz believes POPA’s “1 percent better every day” philosophy means “everybody has a chance to improve at whatever level.” He and his staff strive to make that happen.


“Some of these kids are not athletes in any organized programs,” Schulz said. “They like the POPA program because it gives them a sense of belonging.”


It’s also a way to break down the traditional school cliques.


“I tell kids that POPA is ‘Team Evansville,” Schulz said. “It’s not soccer or basketball, boy or girl, middle school or high school, it’s ‘Team Evansville.’”


Making donations

To help the Power of Positive Athletes or the charities involved in the program, send a check made out to “POPA” to POPA, c/o Dale Schulz, 6615 S. Fifth St., Evansville, WI 53536.


In the memo section, indicate how much of the check should go to POPA and how much should go to one of these charities: Juvenile Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society, Rock County Humane Society or the Evansville Care Closet.



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