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Leafs and Marlies Hopefuls Reap and Sow
Prospects Hit the Farm for Lessons in Healthy Living and Fitness the Old-Fashioned Way

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

July 20, 2005

(KING CITY) -- Twenty prospects of the Blue and White arrived to Beretta Organic Farms in King City Wednesday, ready to enjoy a day in the country.

The beautiful setting provided an opportunity for strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol and development coach Paul Dennis to educate and challenge the players with lessons in where food comes from, the value of an organic diet and the honest effort and work involved in farming the land and raising livestock.

Tyson Marsh captained one of the squads on the farm.
(Getty Images/NHLI)

Led by squad captains Brett Englehardt and Tyson Marsh, the players were divided into two groups and were put through strongman-type challenges including tractor tie flipping, round hay bale rolling and wagon pulling.

The effort involved was clearly evident on their faces and vein-popping necks as they pushed, pulled and grunted through the challenges.

Their teamwork was tested as the events also included guiding wagons pushed by players and loading up the barn with heavy hay bales.

All the players were rewarded with a delicious lunch with all the portions of the meal coming from the farm including new potatoes, fresh sausage and aged lean beef burgers. The teams were competing for a grand prize of having their lunch served to them by the losing team.

"This is a chance for the players to continue their strength and conditioning," explained Coach Dennis "but also an opportunity for gaining a better appreciation for good food and the honest effort that goes into producing it."

Coach Nichol opened the day by explaining "You truly are what you eat." Nichol went on to explain, "There are portions of what you will do today that will be, for some of you, a more challenging workout than you've ever experienced."

The most difficult event appeared to be the hay bale roll where each player individually had to roll a round bale of hay weighing in excess of 700 pounds up a hill for 20 metres.

The players seemed to especially appreciate the chance to get out into the country after the first ten days were spent in Toronto on the ice, in the gym and in the classroom gaining an education in subjects such as media awareness, food preparation, the business of sport and mental attitude.

By the end of the day, there was a tired, but appreciative bunch of prospects on the bus as it slipped out along the narrow, tree-covered driveway.

The prospects will finish their two-week camp with two more days of on-ice practices and workouts and one more seminar involving general medical issues.

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