SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – More than 300 kids from across the tri-state area participated in a football camp led by New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker on Saturday morning at the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School football field.
Decker was joined by six of his teammates – Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, Quincy Enunwa, Jalin Marshal, Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfeld – who provided instruction children from grades 1-8 on the fundamentals of football through various drills at different stations.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces is great and that’s really what it’s all about,” said Decker, who is entering his third season with the Jets. “This year I brought along some of my teammates and it’s an opportunity for the kids to interact and learn from some of the best in the game.”
It was the second consecutive year that the star wide receiver hosted a football camp in Scotch Plains, and the overall message was the same: for the kids to have fun.
“The most important thing is for them to have fun and wanting to come back,” suggested Decker. “You know that you’ve done a good job when the kids are looking forward to coming back the next year.”
Last season, Decker was named the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, an honor that highlights a player’s exceptional volunteer and charity work. His foundation, Deckers Dogs helps fund the rescue, care and training of a service dog for our military veterans returning home with disabilities. It is something that he prides himself on.
“When I’m starting a foundation and (giving back to the community), I don’t really think about being recognized, but when you do it’s humbling,” Decker said. “There’s a lot of people that give back to the community but just to be an example is what I strive for.”
Decker is looking to build on his successes last season in which he hauled in 80 passes and 12 touchdowns while accumulating over 1,000 yards. He’s also confident in the Jets’ chances of making the playoffs after last year’s shortcoming.
“Coming off a year where we had an opportunity to get to the playoffs (in the last week of the season), we’re hungry to get there,” explained Decker. “The goal is to win the championship and I believe this team is capable of doing that. Every year you have a different look; it’s building the comradery and getting to know one another. It’s the hard times that you enjoy getting through to be able to play on Sundays.”
Scotch Plains resident Noah Lieberman, 8, was one of the hundreds of kids who enjoyed the experience.
“It was such a great experience,” said Lieberman, a second grade student at Brunner Elementary School, who one day hopes to be drafted as a wide receiver in the NFL. “I’ve never met a professional athlete before.”
He got his into football last summer at the Maccabi Sports Camp at the JCC of Central NJ. This experience will be one he remembers for quite some time.