Dressed in full pads, the high school football team at Information Technology High School in Long Island City took a break from practice on Tuesday, September 19th to pay close attention to the advice of New York Jets players' Mike Nugent, Anthony Schlegel and Nick Mangold.
The players were on hand to present the high school with a $10,000 check to support their high school football program.
"It is an honor to be here today to present this grant to the students of InfoTech," said New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent. "The Heads Up! Program will ensure that PSAL football programs are on par with those at high schools across the country."
"One of the things I miss about living in Ohio is that I no longer have the opportunity to attend high school and college football games," said Nick Mangold. "It is great to be here with you today and to encourage you to work as hard as you can – both in class and on the field – so that you get into college and continue to pursue your dreams at the next level."
After offering words of encouragement to the students, Nugent, Schlegel and Mangold answered questions from Infotech's players and coaches and demonstrated some techniques.
This year, grants were also awarded to Flushing High School in Queens, FDR High School in Brooklyn and Petrides High in Staten Island, all of which have new or developmental high school football teams. The four schools which received grants in 2005 include: Franklin K. Lane High School, Automotive High School, Alfred E. Smith High School and Wadleigh Arts High. New York Jet Shaun Ellis visited each of these schools during the 2005 season to provide inspiration for the players and the coaches.
In 2005, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York Jets expanded their partnership to create the Heads Up! Program. Through a matching grant from the NFL's Youth Football Fund, the New York Jets donated $100,000 to the PSAL's football programs which helped recondition every helmet in the PSAL ensuring that more than 4,000 student athletes are safeguarded by reconditioned football helmets. In addition, the Heads Up! Program supports the development of teams at schools throughout New York City.
"We are proud to make this investment and to partner with the PSAL on the Heads Up! Program," said New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. "We must continue to ensure that New York City's children are afforded the same opportunities as students from across the country to participate in high school football programs. The New York Jets are committed to giving New York City's children the access to academic enrichment and exposure to sports and nutrition programs that they deserve."
"Football is a team building activity that teaches children about working together, about competition, about striving to be their best," New York Jets President Jay Cross said. "It creates bonds among team members that flourish long after the season ends and it gives kids the opportunity to engage in consistent physical activity. The lessons they learn on the field will help them tackle many of life's other challenges."
"We thank the Jets for their generous financial support of our football program that has allowed Info Tech and 7 other teams to participate in the PSAL over the last two years," said Donald Douglas, Director of the Public Schools Athletic League. "Thanks to the Jets, hundreds of our student athletes are competing in football."
Beyond these grants, since 2001 the Jets have, and continue to, support the PSAL in a variety of other ways. In addition to providing funding, the Jets' support for the PSAL has included hosting PSAL high school football coaches at team practices, creating "Captain's Day" for PSAL football team captains to spend a day at training camp each summer, and honoring PSAL football champions at a selected home game during the NFL season.
In 2004, the Jets honored 75 players and coaches from the Sheepshead Bay High School football team with an on-field presentation during a game against the Houston Texans. In 2005, the Jets honored the PSAL football champions on December 12th during a game against the Oakland Raiders.
Over 30,000 student athletes participate in the PSAL, with many playing multiple sports. In addition, over 180 schools are participating in the PSAL, represented by over 2,400 teams. 85 teams, including 43 varsity teams, are participating in the PSAL football program, with over 2,700 student athletes playing on the teams.
In addition to the Heads Up! Program, over the past six years, the New York Jets and their charitable foundation donated or raised more than $6 million to promote youth health, fitness, and education, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Jets strive to create new opportunities - whether by launching the first football team in an urban high school, providing additional after school instruction in an underperforming school district, or encouraging students to take advantage of a free and healthy school meal.