Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was in South Bend on Monday for a free football clinic for kids at the "Change the Play" football camp in conjunction with Riley Children's Health.
The clinic had more than 200 campers and took place at St. Joe High School for kids ages 5-13, teaching them how to make good decisions when it comes to health, fitness and overall wellness.
Luck has been in South Bend before as the QB at Stanford. It didn't take long for him to have some fun at the expense of the Irish.
"I'm really happy to be here," Luck told campers after he was introduced and then asked,"is anyone a Notre Dame fan here?"
After many campers said yes they were Notre Dame fans, Luck responded, "Uh. I hate Notre Dame."
So does Luck actually hate Notre Dame?
"Do I really hate... do I really hate Notre Dame?" Luck asked himself when I posed the question to him. "Can I say I respect Notre Dame but that I dislike them strongly as well. Does that work? No--it's a great school. Lot of friends that have gone to Notre Dame. Lot of respect for the institution and the athletics but as a Stanford guy I'm allowed to dislike them--and you robbed us in 2012."
Luck of course referring to the goal line stand that helped the Irish beat the Cardinal en route to an undefeated regular season. That was the season after Luck graduated from Stanford.
While Luck may not like Notre Dame, he certainly loved working with the kids on Monday. Whether it was showing them how to do crunches or leading them in a relay race or of course--throwing them touchdown passes---Luck was very hands on.
"The mission is for kids to have fun learning about ways to live an active healthy life style," Luck explained. "It's about going out and not just exercising but sleeping well and eating the right stuff and not stressing out. This camp isn't a quarterback camp or a football or basketball camp. It's a fun camp to go out and learn a couple of things but go have fun while doing it."
And these kids were definitely enjoying the experience like 8-year-old Logan Paluzzi of Niles who admits he isn't really a Colts fan but is a fan of Andrew Luck, especially of catching passes from the Colts QB.
"He's amazing," says Dr. Paul Haut, the chief medical officer of Riley Children's Health of Luck. "It's not unusual for us to get a text from Andrew saying, 'I wrapped up practice. Is it OK if I come by and visit with some of the kids?'
As much as the kids were having fun--Luck may have been having the most fun.
"As a professional athlete you realize the longer you play, how much of an impact you can have on a younger person," Luck says. I really remember as an elementary kid looking up to the high school football players or volleyball girls or basketball guys and say these are heros of mine. You can have a positive or negative impact on a child and and I want to make sure it's a positive one and they are spreading the right message."
Campers rotated between six action packed stations led by Luck, St. Joseph HS athletes and team members from Riley Children's Health. Organizers say each station is inspired by lessons from the eight week Change the Play challenge---teaching kids the importance of making healthy food choices and stay active.
More than 200 kids participated in the early afternoon session. Unfortunately the 2nd session was cancelled because of the severe weather that swept through South Bend. The camp will next head to Evansville on Wednesday and Fort Wayne on Thursday.