GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — UNC Greensboro professor Mike Perko was made to teach the world about how to do fitness properly.
“Prior to my life as a professor, I was a youth coach … I’m in my 43rd year of coaching,” Mike said.
He works with the Southwest Guilford varsity soccer team on which his son Jack, plays.
But when Jack was just 10 years old, Mike wanted him to try a variety of sports, so he signed him up for a lacrosse camp. He was told there would be lots of beginners at the camp, but when they got there, they learned that wasn’t so. The other kids were not only fairly accomplished players but older and much bigger than Jack.
You can imagine how that made a kid like Jack feel.
“He kind of went out there with no enthusiasm and kind of stood in the shadows for the first two or three minutes,” Mike said.
Miek says the coach then called all the players together and made a pronouncement that Mike says changed not just Jack’s life but Mike’s own.
“(The coach) said, ‘‘We’re going to be together for the next five days, so here’s what we’re going to do: every time you make a good pass or a good shot or pick up a ground ball, you’re going to get a fist bump from somebody … Every time you miss the net or don’t succeed at what you’re trying, you’re still going to get a fist bump because the goal of this camp is to build a team, and we’re all in this together.’ And then he said, ‘How many fist bumps do you think we can get in an hour?’ And one kid yells, ‘500!’ and he goes, ‘Let’s try to get 500.’ And I watched Jack go from a kid who was dragging his stick at the end of the line to getting fist bumps left and right and … he was giving fist bumps back.”
“They just started fist-bumping me left and right … no matter if I did good or bad,” Jack said.
It may all sound like some small feel-good measure, but Mike says there is good science behind it all.
“There’s over 50 years of research invested in this initiative. All I’m doing is taking all the evidence we have and putting it into this initiative,” Mike said.
What really excites him is how the science tells us this initiative will follow the kids into adulthood and whatever path they choose in life.
“When they come and work for you or they’re your teacher in your community or your police officer or firemen or women, your parents and your future coaches … we’re pretty well-versed in the evidence that they will be healthier and so will your community,” Mike said.
So Mike has started a program he provides to coaches and athletic clubs for free to institute the idea.
He says it is most effective when you get kids early when they’re in the 6 to 11-year-old range, but it can work with any kids.
See 500 Fist Bumps in action in this edition of The Buckley Report.