Last week at Mitchel Field, Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado brought his two communities together for an unforgettable week of football, fun, and memories with the help of local high school coaches from Floral Park Memorial and Sewanhaka high schools.
Salgado’s first community is his hometown. Raised in New Hyde Park, the 48-year-old former pro said he wanted to “give back to the kids from the same neighborhoods that we grew up in.” After his football career ended, Salgado became an insurance advisor, and is now the founder and CEO of Coastal Advisors LLC.
His second community is his work. With a list of clients that resembles an All-Star team, Salgado had no problem bringing talent and celebrity to the First Annual Big Daddy Youth Football Camp.
More than 80 local youths attended, led by local high school coaches, including Mike Spina, head coach at Floral Park Memorial High School, alongside the pros.
“I want [the kids] to experience every aspect of the football game,” he said. All of the campers learned football fundamentals, from tackling to kicking and receiving. Like the campers, he enjoyed working with the professional players and coaches. “It’s a great experience. I can learn a lot from these guys,” he said.
One professional coach Salgado worked with is New York Jets special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. McGaughey was teaching the campers how to properly get a foot on the ball for a kick. He wanted campers to, “start with the basics, build that foundation … so as they get older they can build on that foundation,” he said. “It’s a matter of (coaches) coming together for a common cause and helping these kids.”
While the camp focused on football, lessons in life were also on the agenda. Boxing Champion Chris Algeri, a Huntington native, was on hand with his championship belt. His talk focused on being a champion, and what it takes to become one.
“You always have to believe in yourself and believe and understand what it is that you want,” he said. “I always wanted to be a football player, but my mom wouldn’t let me, so I ended up being a boxer,” he said jokingly.
For the campers whose moms let them play, the day was a memorable one. The campers were split up into small groups, and rotated through stations with different coaches.
For Big Daddy himself, it was as good as he hoped it would be. “You can’t buy the experience that we are giving back to these kids,” he said. “The goal of the camp is to educate and show these kids how to play football properly and also learn that hard work pays off.”
New York Giants safety Stevie Brown, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, former Giants Sean Landeta and Howard Cross, former New York Jets quarterback Neil O’Donnell, former Bengals tight end Marco Battaglia, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter are just some of the other big names that attended the camp.
Big Daddy intends to host another camp next year, with more campers and more big names expected to attend.