The COVID-19 pandemic certainly wreaked havoc on the sports world over the last 15 months. Professional sports were either cancelled or postponed and, in many cases, when the games and matches were played, fans were not allowed to go. When it came to youth sports, there were a lot of children who missed out on playing last spring and summer and then there were instances when fall sports were postponed to the spring.
When the pandemic was at it’s worst in the New York area, and particularly on Long Island, a lot of activities for young athletes had to be cancelled for health and safety reasons. The Big Daddy Youth Football Camp, an event that began in 2014, was not able to take place last year, but is returning this week.
“It means a lot,” it means a lot said Rich “Big Daddy” Salgado, the founder of the camp and the CEO of Coastal Advisors Insurance Consultants. “I never thought I would be the center point of something that so many parents and kids look forward to it. It means a lot both personally and professionally because we’re giving back to our hometown. We’re giving back to Nassau County…Long Island. We get kids from everywhere.”
The camp will take place this Wednesday and Thursday June 30th and July 1st at Salgado’s alma mater New Hyde Park High School. The camp is run by Big Daddy’s brother Jim Salgado, an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills and also a graduate of New Hyde Park High School. Salgado, who was part of the staff that helped the Bills win the AFC East this past season, really missed the camp last year and is glad to be back on the field teaching the fundamentals of the games to youth football players.
“We’re really excited,” said Jim Salgado. “Unfortunately, with everything last year not being able to have it just to be able to come back home and see the kids again…I know a lot of the kids who have come to the camp multiple times have reached out to us and have been asking all throughout the spring are we going to be able to do it and we were just waiting for clearance. When we got the word that we were going to be able to do it, me and my brother Rich were really excited and look forward to coming back home back in New Hyde Park back in our old stomping grounds and being able to have the camp and just see everybody. That’s what it’s all about and hopefully make an impact on these young guys.”
Over the years, the camp has welcomed a number of current and former NFL players and coaches as guest instructors and lecturers. The final list for this year’s camp is still being finalized, but Long Island native Brian Baldinger, a former NFL offensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst, will make a return visit to the camp.
Baldinger has been a favorite of the repeat campers over the years as they appreciate his passion for the game and the way that he teaches the game. What he’s also done is teach the children how football can help them in life and that has led to Big Daddy stealing a line from Baldinger.
“If you can take one thing that you learned at this camp back to your school, your team, or something to share with your teammates, then us as a staff did our job because we left you with something that you can’t get,” said Rich Salgado. “You’re getting professional athlete experience and coaching and you’re getting it from guys who have been in the trenches and have been there and done it.”
“Everybody looks forward to it,” said Jim Salgado. “Not only myself and my brother but I think all the kids and the parents. I think everybody in the community really enjoys it, looks forward to it like we do and we’re excited to get back there and be able to do it.”
The camp hours are 5pm to 730pm this Wednesday and Thursday and there’s still time to register by visiting the camp’s website www.bigdaddyfootball.com.
Not only do the children have the opportunity to have fun playing football and learning the proper fundamentals and techniques, but after each session is over, they’re treated to a great meal from the camp’s sponsors including Chick-fil-A in Hicksville, Cardinali Bakery in Carle Place, La Bottega in Carle Place and Arizona Beverage Company.
“It is one of the most gratifying things that I look forward to every summer,” said Rich Salgado. “It’s so gratifying. It is so important to see all the kids smile.”
“The kids love it,” said Jim Salgado. “The parents love it. Me and my brother…we love it. (Football) is safer than it’s ever been and it’s being taught that way. That’s the biggest goal for us is to be able to make sure that we teach these young boys and girls the proper way to play so that they could have fun.”
I can tell you first hand how much fun these children have had over the years at the Big Daddy Youth Football Camp, because both of my sons Bradley and Jared have been participants since the inception. It’s a great camp that teaches the children a lot about the game of football and also about life in general and how the two are intertwined in so many ways.
Welcome back Big Daddy Youth Football Camp!