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Caravan brings north siders to Oswego school, Cougars ballpark

Chicago Cubs general manager Dale Sveum talks students Fox Chase Elementary Oswego about how his players exercise ehealthy during Cubs

Chicago Cubs general manager Dale Sveum talks to students at Fox Chase Elementary in Oswego about how his players exercise and eat healthy during the Cubs Caravan Tour on Thursday, January 17, 2013. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 19, 2013 1:21PM

“Go Cubs Go” blared in the gymnasium as students from Fox Chase Elementary School in Oswego cheered on some of their favorite local Major League Baseball players at a Thursday morning assembly.

A contingent of Chicago Cubs players, coaches, personnel and announcers made an appearance at the school as a reward for the students’ participation in a Kane County Cougars’ reading program.

They made this stop, and a stop at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva Thursday, as part of the Cubs On The Move 2013 Caravan Tour.

The main message for the kids was getting enough exercise. The players get their exercise routinely, radio announcer and former Cub Keith Moreland said.

“One of the things they’ve got to do every day is get themselves in shape,” Moreland told the youngsters.

Cubs pitcher Michael Bowden of Aurora, a graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School, jumped rope with student volunteers. Catcher Steve Clevenger did some jumping jacks with the students. Outfielder Tony Campana did push-ups, and second baseman Darwin Barney did some sit-ups.

Manager Dale Sveum and a few members of the coaching staff were also in attendance.

Barney told the students about the importance of exercise.

“When I was your age I was always out playing sports,” he said.

Students were allowed a few questions at the end of the program. After declining an invitation from one of the students to sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” the Cubs contingent hopped onto the caravan and drove north to Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva to meet with officials from the club’s new minor league affiliate, the Kane County Cougars.

Cougars kids

Moreland said it will be great for the big league team to have their minor league affiliate out this way. It will provide a strategic advantage as players shuffle back and forth for assignments, he said.

“He can come rehab out here,” Moreland said of an injured player.

Gold Glove winner Barney said that having the minor league organization this close to Chicago would be a good thing for the team. Players can start earlier understanding the history of the organization.

“I think it’ll be fun for the kids at this level,” he said. “It’s a good experience. You have a lot of the home town fan base.”

Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug expressed his excitement for the new affiliation with the Cubs.

“It’s great for them to stop by. We’re looking forward to the relationship,” Haug said.

Exciting year ahead

The Cougars have traditionally drawn a strong attendance. Haug said sales have been higher for next season because of the new affiliation.

“It’s just a different buzz. They’re going to have a lot of prospects here,” he said.

There are no plans to change the colors or modify the brand that the Cougars have built. The Cubs logo will appear in conjunction with the Cougars logo on many of the materials, Haug said.

Haug said that he’s looking forward to starting a two-year player development contract with the local team, especially at a time they are striving to improve their farm system.

Barney said that with the change happening within the organization, it could be an exciting year for the Cubs.

“We’ve got a bunch of new guys and we’re excited to move forward,” he said. “It’s one of those years that you never know what is going to happen.”

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