Merely a few blocks away from Yankee Stadium, there's another newly constructed sports field that has been an inspirational place for New York City youth. On Tuesday, Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery represented the Jets organization in donating $150,000 to the New York City Public School Athletic League football programs.
In the heart of the Bronx, the KIPP College Prep Academy and East Harlem High School football teams were treated to a visit by the Jets and Cotchery, who ran routes on their shared turf field and gave tips to the wide receivers and cornerbacks.
"My favorite part of the whole outing was definitely interacting with the kids," Cotchery said. "You get to be available to the kids. They get to ask you personal questions, football questions, anything. That's the best thing, that you're able to establish a relationship with the kids and help them establish some direction in their lives."
Eric Goldstein, the CEO of the PSAL, was also there to address the students. Goldstein was at one time a young student in Jamaica, N.Y., hoping to play football, and today he has worked with the Jets to bring new football programs to 11 schools in New York City. A large portion of the money will go to refurbishing all of the helmets in the league for the Heads Up! program, with the rest going to the two schools and to two Play Like A Jet scholarships.
"The Jets have really underpinned football in New York City," Goldstein said. "Without the Jets, football teams in New York City I think would be fewer in number and certainly fewer in quality. So the support has been not only financial, which has been crucial, great and important for us, but also spiritual, which has also been absolutely key for the kids of this city."
One student who was inspired was Nelky G. from KIPP Academy. He was excited to listen to Cotchery's advice on football, school and life as the wideout addressed the group of young players attempting to improve each and every day.
"To me it's a huge thing because we get to finally see a professional talking to us about a high school experience and how he made it to the NFL," Nelky said. "It's an inspiration for us to get out there, keep our work up and keep conditioning and all that."
In 2001 the New York Jets formed a partnership with the PSAL to build up New York City public school football programs. The Jets and the PSAL expanded this partnership in 2005 and naming it Heads Up! Besides the large donation and the creation of the teams, the Jets also honor the PSAL champions at a Jets home game each year.
"It means a lot to me to be out here with the Heads Up program," Cotchery said. "The Jets have done a great job of getting these guys started in their football program. I just wanted to come out here and offer these guys any advice. It didn't have to be related to football, it could be related to life in general. I feel it's my duty to come out here and help those guys and share some of my wisdom with those guys."