Gamecocks in Orlando: Kids bring out the kid in USC players

nwhite@thestate.comDecember 29, 2013 

South Carolina Gamecocks defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles plays some Guitar Hero with Miguel Coss inside DisneyQuest in Orlando, Fla, Sunday, December 29, 2013. The South Carolina football team spent time with disadvantaged kids from the area during the "Day for Kids" at Walt Disney World Resort as part of the Capital One Bowl festivities.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

— Mike Davis could only smile as he watched his newest friend, 13-year-old Cameron Smith, shoot baskets at DisneyQuest on Sunday morning.

Cameron had already bested South Carolina’s tailback three times at the nearby SnoCross, a virtual snowmobile racing game.

“I’ve got to play him again,” Davis said.

Cameron smiled right back at the thought of one of the nation’s top running backs wanting one more chance to come out on top. The two were paired together as part of the Day for Kids event at Walt Disney World, where USC and Wisconsin football players came together to play games with disadvantaged and disabled children from the central Florida area.

The players from the opposing teams in the Capital One Bowl wore their jerseys and interacted for 90 minutes with their excited young pals by playing a wide variety of both classic and space-age arcade games at DisneyQuest, a five-story indoor interactive theme park.

At times, it was hard to tell if the children or the players were having a better time. The USC players were glad to do their part.

“I love kids, and I want a lot of children when I grow up,” USC defensive end Chaz Sutton said. “Just to see kids that are going through hard times, whatever they might be in life, we just want to put a smile on their face and brighten up their day and let them know it’s OK. This is a great day to smile and be a kid and for us to instill some of that childhood back into them. It’s a great feeling for me.”

Linebacker Skai Moore walked everywhere throughout the different levels trailing behind 10-year-old Messiah Parker as they went from one game to the next.

“We’re having fun,” Moore said. “I’m just following him.”

USC defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, a big believer in community service, could be seen jamming away with Miguel Coss on the Guitar Hero game.

“I like to do this stuff anyway, and it’s a good opportunity for us to come back and play with children and have a little fun,” Quarles said. “That’s what Disney World is all about. When you think about Disney World, you think about little kids and Mickey Mouse and having fun.”

South Carolina’s players also participated in this event in 2011 before their game with Nebraska, and this time they got to interact with another team in red from the Big Ten. USC coach Steve Spurrier likes to see his team involved in efforts like this one.

“Our players are really good about visiting hospitals and visiting kids that maybe have a lot of struggles in life,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, we can bring some joy and fun to the children here at Disney. Our players get a kick out of it, too. It’s good for all of us to give back every chance we get.”

Some of the players worked as teams with their kids, like quarterback Dylan Thompson and receiver Nick Jones. And a big crowd of people seemed to follow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney everywhere he went.

By the time the event ended, there were a whole lot of smiles to go around, from the kids to the players.

“A lot of guys on the team call me a big kid,” Sutton said. “To be around kids and have fun and show them things and talk to them, it’s pretty cool.”

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