In every city he visits during his world tour, Garth Brooks is taking time to hang out with children as part of his Teammates for Kids Foundation.
Teammates for Kids has helped provide scholarships for underprivileged children, allowing them to go to ProCamps Sports Camps, hosted by professional athletes.
“We’re a family and that’s what this is. It’s about being part of something that’s bigger than you could ever be by yourself… That’s what a teammate is for me.”
The ProCamps vary by sport and are led by different pro athletes and coaches.
In Edmonton on Saturday, Brooks teamed up with former Oiler Ryan Smyth to put on a ProCamp for 60 kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Edmonton and Big Brothers Big Sisters Edmonton.
Appropriately, the sport was ball hockey.
“Today is about the kids,” Smyth said. “It’s great. It’s about an opportunity… It’s bringing everyone together… There’s no greater feeling than being together as a team.”
When speaking to the kids, Brooks focused on love while Smyth talked about attitude.
“Love is the most important thing we can do down here. You can deal with human beings at this age,” Brooks said, holding his hand waist-high, “introduce love into their life – or you can deal with human beings at this age (gestures taller than him) who haven’t had love introduced into their life. You’ll see a big difference… I think it’s the most important thing.”
“Other than being a dad, this is the most important work I’ve ever gotten to do in my life,” Brooks added.
The children at the event ranged in age from nine to 13.
Smyth joined the Teammates for Kids in 1999, shortly after its inception.
“What we found out about hockey is that they’re the most giving and they spend so much time with the children,” Brooks said.
Now, the organization has 4,000 professional athletes as partners.
“These God-given gifted athletes that just want to play their sports and help kids,” Brooks said, “that’s what it’s all about.”