YBOR CITY - Angel Fennell didn't know what to think when she was about to have lunch - and play video games - with a bunch of Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I was nervous at first," said Fennell, 15, a student at Blake High School. "They are all so tall and I have to look up to them. But they are nice, too."
Fennell was among about a dozen participants in the YMCA's afterschool program who were chosen to have a free outing with Buc rookies at GameTime.
The afternoon was part of a week of activities for the rookies, through the Buccaneers Rookie Club, started in 2001. It is designed to connect players new to the Buccaneers roster with the Tampa Bay community.
The rookie class members, which includes quarterback Mike Glennon and cornerback Johnthan Banks, collectively volunteer their time through a variety of programs and efforts for various charitable causes throughout the area.
Wayne Johnson, of the Bob Gilbertson Central City YMCA, accompanied the youth to the event.
He said the youth were chosen for attendance by their commitment to improving their reading skills.
He said the players showed the youth that they too had make a commitment to their careers "and that the money doesn't come easy."
Rookie Steven Means, 22, a defensive end from Buffalo, N.Y., who attended the University of Buffalo, said he was learning a lot about the area, where he has experienced "a big change in the climate."
He said, " The best part is seeing the kids and bringing a smile to their faces. And they do that for us, too."
The week of activities for the rookies also included a visit to the James A. Haley Veterans' hospital, where they served ice cream at a social; a trip to Busch Gardens with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay; bowling with youth from Big Brothers Big Sisters; a tour of MacDill Air Force Base and a trip to SeaWorld to meet members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
For information on the Buccaneers' community initiatives, see www.buccaneers.com/community.