More than 50 youngsters attended a free football camp last week at Caven Point Cochrane Field in Jersey City, but many of them had no idea who the director of the camp was.
Rich Glover, who was twice named the top defensive lineman in college football during his playing days at the University of Nebraska, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and played in the National Football League with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, held his 11th Annual “All Access to Life Foundation” football camp, free of charge, to kids who want to learn more about football.
However, most of the youngsters had no clue about Glover’s impressive resume.
“That impresses me a lot,” said 12-year-old Daivan Lee, who attends P.S. 40 in Jersey City.
“I didn’t know that,” said Kasaan Brevard. “That is great.”
The youngsters obviously knew of Ndamukong Suh, the current Detroit Lions standout defensive tackle, who earned both the Outland and Lombardi Trophies in 2009. Suh also played at Nebraska.
But in their presence was a Jersey City native, an All-American from Nebraska who garnered the same awards as Suh, but in a different era.
In 1972, Glover earned both prestigious awards and earned All-America honors. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year. After helping the Cornhuskers win the national title, he visited the White House, where President Richard Nixon allowed Glover to sit in the chair in the Cabinet room that was usually occupied by Melvin Laird, the Secretary of Defense.
“You’re the secretary of defense today, Mr. Glover,” President Nixon told Glover. “You sit here.”
Glover said that later in the camp, he showed the participants a film of him playing in college and presented them each with a flyer that had a list of his accomplishments.
“Maybe now they know a little bit about me,” Glover said. “Last year, I brought my trophies down so they could see. The kids then said, `Wow, he was that good.”
Glover’s foundation was formed in order to give something back to the youngsters in the city where he grew up. Glover was a standout football player at Snyder during his days, before he headed to Nebraska.
Part of his foundation’s efforts is to organize the free camp, giving the grade school-aged kids a chance to learn more about football. The NFL Retired Players Foundation provides grants to former players to give back to the community. Glover is one of those former players.
Glover also receives private donations in order to run the camp, with the help of his wife, Sonja.
“It’s basically a way to introduce some of them to football,” Glover said. “They get a chance to see what football is like, learning about offense, defense, special teams. I talk to them as well and tell them a little bit about life skills.”
There were special guests that were at the camp, namely former New York Giants defensive end Gary Jeter and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who was also born in Jersey City.
“They told the kids how they got started in football,” said Glover, who had a bunch of volunteer coaches on hand to help with the instruction. “This was something I always wanted to do, to give back to the kids of Jersey City. My ‘All Access to Life’ Foundation is not just about sports. It’s about stressing academics, focusing on the arts.”
The youngsters seemed to have a great time, despite the high temperatures.
“It’s been fun,” 12-year-old Zack Meyer of Secaucus said. “I’m learning all the fundamentals.”
“I got a chance to work on my quarterback skills,” said 12-year-old Tysaan White, who attends Middle School 4 in Jersey City. “I learned more techniques that will definitely help me a lot.”
“I got to learn the different stances that a running back could use,” Brevard said. “It’s really been a lot of fun.”
The campers all received T-shirts free of charge as well. It’s amazing that such a camp could exist for 11 straight summers.
“For me, it brings back a lot of memories,” said Glover, who had stints as the head coach at Dickinson and Ferris in recent years. “To see the smiles on their faces, throwing the ball around, running around, is well worth it.”
Glover said that if the opportunity arose, he would love to get back into coaching again…
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Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.