Hasbrouck Heights' Gridiron Football Camp Offers Both Skills and Character Development

Inspirational speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez shows players shark teeth at the Gridiron State Football Camp on Monday. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Camp Director and Hasbrouck Heights football coach Adam Baeria introduces Dallas Cowboys defensive back Kyle Querio Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Queiro talked to the football campers. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Glen Rock native and Arizona Cardinals defensive and nickel backs coach Alonso Escalante talks to the players. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Gonzalez addresses the players. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Guest speakers made time to sign autographs for the players. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
The annual football camp at Depken Field teaches players skills and fundamentals of football, and games and contests throughout the day. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- Monday kicked off the fifth annual Gridiron State Football Camp at Depken Field in Hasbrouck Heights. The weekly event is open to players from seven to 14 years old from surrounding towns. 

Run by Hasbrouck Heights High School offensive coordinator Adam Baeira, the day consists of warm ups, relays, position training, contests, and scrimmages. Each day is rounded out by special guest speakers from both collegiate and professional football, encourage the players, answer questions and sign autographs.

Baeira said he always gets positive feedback about the guest speakers.

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Monday's speakers included Dallas Cowboys rookie Kyle Queiro, Arizona Cardinals defensive quality control and nickelback coach, Alonso Escalante, and motivational speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez.

Queiro, an undrafted free agent, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in April. He told the players that "having fun is important"  but playing "to the best of your abilities" is important, too, because "your parents are sacrificing" things for them to play and participate. He urged the played to respect their parents, classmates, teammates, and others on the field and off, and to "treat others the way they want to be treated."

Escalante has a Bergen County connection, being a native of Glen Rock. He drew on his years of coaching experience, from Pop Warner, through high school, college and the pros. He told the players that the "thing all the best players have in common" is that they're smart. 

"That's what makes them special," he said. 

He told the players he spends 70% of his day with players in a classroom setting, watching films, reviewing plays. 

He said that their classroom habits of smart students can carry over the field to make smart players, by listening, studying, respecting teachers, and asking questions.

Gian Paul Gonzalez returned to the camp as a guest speaker. He told the players of when his grandfather took him to the shark exhibit at the aquarium, and told him "you better learn to be a shark." He said his 15-year old self didn't understand the lesson at the time. Gonzalez told the players sharks have several rows of teeth, so when one falls out, another is there to take its place. He explained that even if they lose or fail at something, there will be another opportunity to get better. 

"Remember who you were born to be," he told the players. "Take everyone opportunity to get better."

Baeira has a full line up of guest speakers scheduled to appear during the week:

Marvin Washington, former Jets, Bronco and 49ers defensive lineman, 

Thomas Hennessy, New York Jets long snapper

Nunzio Campanile, Rutgers University running backs coach

Gary Nova, former Rutgers quarterback

Gene Snitsky, former WWE wrestler

Leonte Caroo, Rutgers alumni, Miami Dolphins

Lee Rouson, former New York Giants/Cleveland Browns running back

Anti-Bully Squad mascot, Courage

Baeira said players can still sign up on Tuesday morning at the main gate on Oldfield Avenue at Depken Field.


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