By Dylan Spilko
For the fifth straight summer in a row, the Big Daddy Youth Football Camp continues to grow within the New Hyde Park community.
The three day camp, organized by former University of Maryland football player Rich “Big Daddy” Salgado, gives children a chance to work with professional athletes and learn how to play football. The Big Daddy Camp hosts children between first and eighth grade. This year, it reached approximately 75 kids while during its first summer, only reached 25 kids.
“It has grown leaps and bounds,” said Salgado. “We have national sponsors and we even feed our campers after practice, which no one does.”
What sets the Big Daddy Camp apart is who they are able to attract to help with the camp. From NFL players and coaches to TV analysts, Salgado brings the star-studded power that is needed to give kids the best teaching and advice on the field at New Hyde Park Memorial High School. This year, the lineup of professional athletes included former Giants Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins, Super Bowl-winning safety Devin McCourty, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, current Buffalo Bills defensive coach, Rich’s brother Jim Salgado, Brian Kilmeade of Fox and Friends, New York Giants tight end coach Lunda Wells and Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network.
For Salgado, who currently works as an insurance agent and financial planner for NFL players, attracting professionals to the Big Daddy Camp is all about his connections.
“We ask my clients, colleagues, coaches, TV personalities and most, or all, say yes and if scheduling allows it they do come,” Salgado said.
The kids at the camp get to take instruction from some of the premier players and coaches in the NFL.
“We want the kids to learn the game of football in a fun and safe manner,” explained Salgado. “We teach the kids the fundamentals of how to play the game, how to tackle, how to throw and catch.”
Salgado understands the importance of having something like the Big Daddy Camp in a community and recognizes the fact that the children look up to him as a prominent figure.
“It’s important to my brother and I as role models in our community,” Salgado said. “People know who we are and we are very aware to be good humans and people.”
While teaching children the right way to play football is important to Salgado, his biggest passion is much more. Salgado is aware of his immense value to New Hyde Park and strives to give back to the place he grew up in.
“We wanted to share our blessed gifts, what I mean is, our good fortune,” Salgado said. “Most kids don’t have this opportunity.”
—Dylan Spilko is a reporter for the New Hyde Park Illustrated News.