On Thursday evening, the New York Jets hosted more than 45 players from Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) football teams, representing New York City's five boroughs. The young men watched the Jets practice from the sideline and then were greeted by veteran defensive end Shaun Ellis, the Jets' Heads Up - PSAL Ambassador.
"You shouldn't be a follower. You should always lead by example," Ellis said to the players. "School is very important. You can't get to college without the grades and you are going to need something to fall back on. Stay focused, stay humble, and don't let somebody tell you that you can't do something. Keep motivating yourself."
Along with receiving valuable advice from Ellis, the players were especially attentive during the Green & White's night practice.
"This particular one is exciting. We grab up our kids in the summer and we take them out here," said Mr. Marty Oestreicher, New York City's Chief Executive of School Support Services. "They really feel special. These are the captains and the key players from each of the teams. They get to see the players firsthand and this was the second year in a row in which Shaun Ellis has come to speak to them."
The Jets and the NFL's Youth football Fund will donate $100,000 to the PSAL's football programs in 2006.
"This is not the only thing the Jets do. They support five of our teams," said Oestreicher. "They gave us the start-up funds for each of those teams. In addition, the Jets have contributed to our health and conditioning program, which is the biggest cost we have. And the Jets will bring our championship team to a game in December. They get their picture on the scoreboard, get announced to the crowd and go out on the field."
The camp visit was originally intended for team captains, but the PSAL attempts to get as many players involved as possible.
"It is designed for captains, but I think you'll see we have more than captains," Oestreicher said. "We tried to get as many as we could - two or three players from most of the schools."
HEADS UP! In partnership with the Public Schools Athletic League, the New York Jets Heads Up! program promotes the resurgence of high school football in New York City. The program helps alleviate the financial burden of purchasing equipment through two initiatives: reconditioning helmets for all students in the PSAL, and providing startup grants to launch new teams in urban high schools in the five boroughs of New York. In 2006, the New York Jets and the NFL's Youth Football Fund donated $100,000 to the PSAL's football programs. The grant helped recondition every helmet in the PSAL, safeguarding more than 4,000 student-athletes. Additional grants funded new and developmental high school programs at Franklin D. Roosevelt, Petrides, Flushing, Information Technology, Franklin K. Lane, Automotive, Alfred E. and Wadleigh Arts.