Feb. 2, 2014
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Leading up to this, the first time in the modern era that the National Football League (NFL) champion will be crowned in the metropolitan area, much of the narrative centered on the winter climate and its potential impact on the game.
For many underprivileged kids in New York and New Jersey, the effect of that cold weather goes far beyond the abstract discussion - it is an everyday reality.
Earlier this week, Seton Hall student-athletes representing the men's soccer, swimming & diving and tennis programs joined forces with members of the Denver Broncos organization to support the Knights of Columbus (K of C) "Coats for Kids" event at the Sacred Heart School in Jersey City, aiming to provide support for those in need.
Freshman swimmer Ian Campbell (Corvallis, Ore.) and classmate Samuel Geiler (Offenburg, Germany) made the trip in addition to senior tennis captains Rocio Portela (Demetrio Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) and Chloe Sher (Tin Shui Wai, Hong Kong) to stand alongside the Broncos representatives and help distribute winter apparel and spend time interacting with the kids.
"It was a great experience to see athletes of that level taking a break from all the craziness to just hang out and help out," said Portela. "Seeing how those kids' faces lit up, it just reminded me of the power to inspire that athletes have. It was also good to see how they handled the media presence at the event
and was definitely a motivating, inspiring, and learning experience overall."
Members of the Broncos in attendance included defensive end Robert Ayers, an alumnus of the Sacred Heart School, fellow Garden State natives Mike Adams and Knowshon Moreno, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, and coaches Jay Rodgers and Sam Garnes; a former New York Giants safety who hails from the Bronx.
The connection to the initiative stemmed from efforts championed by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and his wife Linda through their foundation and the two were also on hand to help support the cause.
Launched in 2009, the K of C Coats for Kids program has already provided more than 170,000 new coats to children in need. More than 1,200 K of C councils participated in this program in the past year. The Knights of Columbus and Denver Broncos previously joined forces in October to distribute coats to kids in Denver.
Linda Del Rio is also a noted supporter of Varsity Catholic, a division of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), whose imprint on the Seton Hall campus has continued to grow over recent years. The stated mission of Varsity Catholic is to "develop the complete athlete" through an approach that features bible studies, one-on-one mentoring and outreach events such as this.
Varsity Catholic is currently present on 15 campuses nationwide. At Seton Hall, there are nine student-athlete bible studies on various teams. Monthly student-athlete masses and service opportunities are also available and in May, three Pirates will participate in a mission trip to St. Lucia where they will assist in running soccer camps for local youth.
The mission of Varsity Catholic directly aligns with that of Seton Hall's unique Helping Athletes Learn to be Leaders (H.A.L.L.) Program, through which an added emphasis has been placed on ensuring that the university's student-athletes are active in the surrounding communities and are better equipped for life after graduation.
For more information on Varsity Catholic, CLICK HERE