Mountain Pointe students have a variety of sports available to them every Tuesday and Thursday morning as part of the DEN program. Travis Roemhild/AFN

Arizona State University students and staff have teamed up with Mountain Pointe High School to offer optional physical activity to students two times a week.

The DEN program helps ASU students with internship experience while Mountain Pointe students can participate in a variety of sports and activities every Tuesday and Thursday before school.

Roughly 160 students participate each day. Along with organizing games, the ASU students also talk to them about the importance of physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

"We're trying to get kids to be active," said David Wulff, a graduate student at ASU. "Especially for the younger kids, it's good to let them know that there are options like this available."

The program is open to all students from 7 to 7:40 a.m. each day. Mountain Pointe's Physical Education Chair Phil Abbadessa started a before-school program two years ago and combined forces with Dr. Hans van der Mars from ASU.

"We got together and said, ‘Let's take it to the next level,'" Abbadessa said. "We wanted to give the students another activity to be physically active on campus."

Mountain Pointe students have the option to play basketball, volleyball, soccer and more. Being physically active can lead to increased focus and better classroom work, van der Mars said.

"Kids at the high school age have been shown to be the most sedentary," he said. "So it is great to see this many kids out here each day."

The ASU program enrolls 16 students. There are three schools that offer the DEN program, including Mountain Pointe and schools in the Gilbert and Higley unified school districts.

For Mountain Pointe students who participate, they see the effects of increased activity.

"It keeps you active and the blood flowing," Richard Frazier, 15, said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.