HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- Youth football players from around the county had the opportunity to learn new skills and hone existing skills, while hearing from several name speakers at the annual Gridiron State Football camp. The sixth annual camp was held at at Depken Field in Hasbrouck Heights. The week-long event is open to players from six to 13 years old and draws players from surrounding towns.
Run by Hasbrouck Heights High School offensive coordinator Adam Baeira, the days 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, to encourage the players, answer questions, and sign autographs.
This year's line up included Coaches Anthony Campanile (Michigan University), Alonso Escalante (Cleveland Browns), and motivational speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez. Players included Kevin Wilkins (Philadelphia Eagles), Leonte Carroo (Rutgers/ Miami Dolphins) Kyle Queiro (Dallas Cowboys), Sam Garnes (New York Giants and Jets), Thomas Hennessy (NY Jets), Roman Oben (NY Giants) , Tommy Sweeney (Buffalo Bills) , Matt Simms (NY Jets) , and Tony Richardson (Kansas City Chiefs and NY Jets.)
A math teacher at Hasbrouck Heights Middle School, Baeira's other coaching duties include wrestling and track. He begins working on the summer football camp in March, “to give kids a place where they can meet new friends, learn the game of football and have a great time. It’s a sport where participation is declining. Hopefully the camp can help build that confidence for some kids to play.”
Baeira said he always gets positive feedback about the guest speakers.
"They were all positive," he said. "Different guys, with different messages. Each had their own unique message."
“Every guest speaker was great," he said. "Gian Paul always sends home a motivating message each summer. Tony Richardson spoke about the effects of bullying."
"I think Anthony Campanile had the best message. He talked about how football develops relationships with people. It’s so true.”
Baeira noted that some of the guest speakers even participate in the youth players scrimmages.
“Definitely the rookies and younger players in the league. Guys like Tommy and Leonte," he said. "They seemed to have just as much fun as the kids. It makes them remember what it was like when they were that age.”
Several players received awards for their efforts throughout the week. Two received the Character Award and tickets to Giants/Chicago Bears preseason game. Skill competition winners were given Nike cleats.
What does Baeira hope that the youth players take away from the camp?
“Hopefully the campers learned more than just football," Baeira said. "I hope they learned how to be great teammates and built some good character along the way. Maybe a camper now has the confidence to play this season where they may have been on the fence before they came to camp.
“Football is a very competitive game no matter what the age level is. Every team works hard and wants to win. Coaches put in a ton of time to prepare whether its at the pee wee level, junior level, senior level, or high school. I just hope the kids had a great experience during the week and most importantly had fun. I wish all the kids the best of luck this season.”
“I hope each camper learned something new that they can build off of heading into this football season.”
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