A new wave of Jets fans piled into the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today, as over 200 kids from Northern New Jersey participated in the Generation Jets Kids Club Clinic. With parents watching from the sidelines of the fieldhouse, the kids were greeted by most of the Jets' rookie class. After splitting up into multiple groups, the kids were able to take part in football drills led by the players.
One of the most exciting drills for the kids, which involved catching a pass then running through a cone-shaped tackling dummy, was led by linebacker Cory Reamer. The kids enjoyed barreling through the dummy with the ball and were getting their money's worth with each hit.
"It's been great," Reamer said. "We've had some good events this week. Yesterday was a great event but this is fun to get out here and see these guys get excited about Jets football. They're out here to have fun, and so are we."
This has been a busy and charitable weekend for Reamer and the Jets rookie class, as they also participated in the eighth annual North Jersey Walk with Us to Cure Lupus on Saturday. Despite having to learn the playbook, get up to game speed and become acclimated to life in the NFL, these players have been gracious in giving back to the local community. Fullback John Conner, for example, seemed to be taking ownership of what it means to be a Jet in this area.
"I'm having a good time with these kids out here. It's good to get out here and work with the younger kids and show them a few drills that we do," Conner said. "It's good to take a few days off from the practice field and work with some of the younger kids, and I'm enjoying myself."
On this hot Sunday, kids were lined up at the water coolers in between drills. Jared from Orange, N.J., rushed over after completing his turn at the agility drill and when asked about his favorite activity of the day he simply said, "Tackling." This response was a common one from this new generation of Jets fans who loved taking part in the types of football drills that NFL players incorporate into their daily practices.
"These guys are really our biggest fans," cornerback Brian Jackson said. "They don't necessarily know too much about the game, but you get to teach them the little things that might help them get to the next level. It's a blessing. These guys out here are one of a kind, their eyes are lit up and they have smiles on their faces no matter how the drills are going. It's a great thing."
About 90 percent of the kids at this year's clinic had never participated in a Gen Jets clinic before — which goes to show the ever-expanding Jets fan base in the area. Tom, a proud parent from nearby Chatham, had a son, Mac, participating in the event, and while watching from the sideline, Tom could only beam as he watched Mac's exuberance on the field.
"My son is only 5, but I think this is a fantastic opportunity," Tom said. "He and some of his buddies were so incredibly excited to be out here. Just being on a turf where the Jets play, it's so exciting for them."
Regardless of whether these kids will one day become athletes, the experience of learning from the Jets was the chance of a lifetime. The rookies displayed amazing dedication and care for the local community and the kids and parents could not have been happier with the day's results.