Professional experience met the youth of Long Island at the second annual Big Daddy Football Camp at Mitchel Field recently.
Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado founded the camp. The 49-year-old from New Hyde Park is currently the CEO and founder of Costal Advisors LLC. When he was younger, Salgado hoped to be a football player. But he became an insurance agent after his playing career came to an end.
The camp combined Salgado’s two worlds, his work and his home. With a client list that is similar to a Pro Bowl team, Salgado was able to bring NFL talent to the camp to educate the dozens of local children that attended the three-day camp.
“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community,” Salgado said of the camp. “I’ve got a good relationship around the NFL, and it’s a good way to give back.”
Salgado used his good relationship to bring in many guests such as current and former National Football League players that could educate the children about how to be successful on and off the field.
“The kids can listen to someone other than a parent or relative,” Salgado said. “They’re listening to people that have been at the highest level possible doing it for a long time.”
One of the people the campers were listening to was former Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson, a 16-year veteran of the NFL who finished his career with the New York Jets in 2010.
“The biggest thing for the kids is mostly to work hard and have fun,” Richardson said. “Enjoy it, enjoy your teammates, learn, and listen. The more they listen, the better off they’ll be.”
Growing up in Germany, Richardson seldom had the opportunity to meet professional athletes, and he hopes that opportunity is one that the campers will remember.
“These kids, they see us on TV, but they don’t realize that we’re just like them,” he said. “We put our shoes on just like them. It’s hard for them to believe that we were ever their size.”
Another example of how the campers and professionals are similar is Mike Catapano. A graduate of Chaminade High School in Mineola, Catapano is currently entering his third season with the Kansas City Chiefs as a defensive end.
“This is my home. This is my backyard. I want to do everything I can to help Long Island football,” Catapano said. “Long Island football needs more stuff like this. Stuff like this is great when we can get kids out here playing the game. The impact of football is second to none.”
Fellow Long Island native Adam Schefter was also at the camp to talk to the campers. Schefter is currently one of ESPN’s top NFL analysts, and he has nearly four million followers on Twitter.
“There are a lot of bright football people here who really know the game. To take some of their time to devote it to these kids is a nice thing that you hope these kids will remember,” Schefter said.
Former Jets safety Erik Coleman was also given an opportunity to speak to the campers, and his message was simple.
“No matter what they do in life, they’re going to have to outwork people if they want to be great at something,” Coleman said of his message to the campers. “Football did a lot for me, and I think there’s a lot of things that football can teach to a kid.”
The camp was a family affair for the Salgados. Richard’s brother Jim was in charge of coaching the camp. Jim is currently the Co-Defensive Coordinator at Princeton University. According to Jim, the goal of the camp was to give the campers a complete football experience.
“We’re letting every kid work at every position,” Jim Salgado said. “We want them to get a taste of playing every position so they know what the other guys are dong.”
Other guests at the camp included New York Giants assistant offensive coach Lunda Wells, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Jets defensive end Stephen Bowen, MSG Varsity analyst Mike Quick, and radio personality Anita Marks.
In the future, Big Daddy hopes the camp will expand to hundreds of campers with more NFL guests.